Failing to take notes correctly costs UK employers £3.7bn a year

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A new study conducted by international transcription and translation specialists has revealed that workers failing to take notes properly costs employers in the UK £3.7 billion a year and will cost employees 24.7 hours of time making up for note-taking failures per year. The most common mistakes made by workers include attempting and failing to write down every word recited and not being able to read one’s own handwriting.

As part of its ongoing research looking into the quality and level of transcription currently being implemented within UK businesses, a company specialising in professional transcription and translation services has carried out an investigation looking at the importance of note taking.

The study, conducted by Global Lingo, polled a total of 2,378 employees aged 18 and over working across a wide range of industries throughout the UK.

Individuals were firstly asked if they were ever required to take meeting notes as part of their role in their current workplace. 62% said that they did take notes at work, with 54% of these workers stating that they are asked to take notes on at least a weekly basis.  Of all workers who claimed to take notes, 90% claimed that they ‘regularly’ took notes either poorly or incorrectly.

All participants who took notes were then asked to disclose how much time in a typical working week they took deciphering or counteracting poorly or incorrectly taken notes. According to the results, the average amount of time taken per week, per employee, was revealed to be 32 minutes; or 24.7 hours per working year.

Taking this, as well as the median hourly UK wage (£11.21) into account, the average employee questioned therefore wastes a total of £276.88 worth of their employer’s time during an average year making up for not taking sufficient notes. When then taking into consideration that 62% of the current number of full-time employees in the UK (21,702,900) claim to take notes at work, it can be estimated that employees failing to take notes correctly costs UK employers altogether £3,725,641,350 per year.

Participants were then asked to disclose the most common note-taking mistakes or repercussions experienced by themselves or colleagues that they believe cost them the most time when deciphering notes. The top five note-taking faux pas emerged as follows:

1. Attempting to write down every word being recited and not being able to summarise efficiently- (58%)

2. Keeping notes in various different places that are not in order-(44%)

3. Being too wary or intimidated to ask colleagues or co-workers to slow down or repeat something when missed – (32%)

4. Not making appropriate headings/ sub-headings and therefore forgetting the general theme/topic of notes- (24%)

5. Note-taking in such a rush that one’s handwriting is indecipherable- (16%)

Richard Michie, marketing and technology director at Global Lingo, made the following comments on the results of the study: ‘Note-taking is not a skill easily acquired by anybody, and sometimes the ability to take a set of comprehensive notes is somewhat overlooked and unappreciated in a business environment.

‘Results from this study clearly indicate that concise and clear note-taking is a vital component of running and growing a successful business.

Failure to do so, as findings above suggest, results in employees jeopardising their valuable time, not to mention a huge financial losses for their employers.’