The collective knowledge of your people is perhaps your most valuable asset. And yet, a surprising number of businesses have no formalized process for transferring internal knowledge. A hastily arranged exit interview is often the only mechanism for capturing knowledge before an employee leaves. And if the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s this: Companies that can pivot and display agility have not only survived but have thrived in the face of challenges. Knowledge sharing is fundamental to this ability to adapt.
A knowledge-sharing culture ensures your employees can access the right information at the right time. It allows staff to be more productive, exchange ideas and insights, and learn from past mistakes. And it can give you an all-important leg-up over the competition. And the good news is, getting your company to share knowledge may not be as difficult as you thought.
This post covers everything you need to know about knowledge sharing, including the following:
- Definition of knowledge sharing
- Why knowledge sharing is important
- Ways to implement knowledge sharing in your business.
What Is Knowledge Sharing?
Knowledge sharing is the process by which knowledge, skills, and expertise are transferred within a business. It acknowledges that every employee has something valuable to share regardless of the position in their organization’s hierarchy.
Types Of Organizational Knowledge
Within every business, there are two main forms of knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is fact-based and is easy to transmit. This category includes information found in manuals, SOPs, and how-to guides. For instance, a checklist on adding a new supplier to the database is a simple example of explicit knowledge your business may have.
By contrast, tacit knowledge is harder to capture and share. It covers on-the-job experiences, plus problems and issues to look out for. A long-serving HR manager, for example, will have a ton of tacit knowledge gained from experience and accumulated wisdom.
Both types of knowledge are critical to business success. Later on, we will look at various ways to capture, catalog, and share explicit and tacit knowledge.
First, let’s run through the benefits on offer from knowledge sharing.
Why Knowledge Sharing Is important
Harvard Business Review reports that Fortune 500 companies lose a combined $31.5 billion every year because employees fail to share their knowledge effectively. That’s a sobering statistic, right?
However, research from Gartner suggests businesses with more informed employees outperform their competitors by 77 percent.
Knowledge sharing has a range of benefits for organizations, including the following.
Supports Innovation And Creativity
A knowledge-sharing culture ensures workers have easy access to the right knowledge when they need it. This, in turn, stimulates creativity and makes problem-solving and transferring ideas a whole lot easier. The result? A more productive, agile workforce where creativity and innovation can flourish.
Better And Faster Decision-Making
There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. If you can share internal knowledge – especially tacit knowledge – this means you can learn from the experiences, and perhaps most importantly, the mistakes of others. For example, the social media advertising campaign by colleagues in Los Angeles will provide a wealth of practical know-how. The New York team can learn from and adapt that experience to maximize their local campaign.
Furthermore, consider all that time workers waste sifting through shared drives or lengthy email threads searching for that crucial data. Despite technological advances, the Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report suggests inefficient knowledge transfer is rife. According to the report, US knowledge workers waste nearly six hours each week due to inefficient knowledge sharing.
Real-time knowledge sharing from a centralized platform means staff can act more quickly. Time isn’t wasted locating data or expert help. Instead, employees have ready access to the correct information and can make better decisions.
Enhanced Customer Service
Another welcome benefit of for organisation that share knowledge is enhanced service to customers. Sharing knowledge and innovation can reduce the time needed to deliver a product or service. And your customer will appreciate and value an informed, knowledgeable workforce.
For example, imagine a service technician faced with a tricky problem while out in the field. Instead of wading through a complex manual, the worker can ping an IM to a colleague with subject expertise. The issue is resolved quickly and efficiently, making for one happy customer.
Improved Employee Engagement
Knowledge sharing is a great way to empower employees. A knowledge-sharing culture sends a clear signal to workers about how much you value their expertise. Plus, a centralized platform allows for a proactive, self-service approach, which is liberating for staff. Plus, employee engagement also has an impact on retention and recruitment. And with Gallup reporting engaged teams have 21 percent more profitability, that’s a big difference to your bottom line.
Reduced Impact From The Loss Of Staff
Millions of experienced, knowledgeable employees retire every year. And according to Pew Research Center, the pandemic has seen even more staff retire. The number of Baby Boomers retiring increased by 3.2 percent in 2020. Furthermore, according to Mercer, US companies have an average turnover rate of 22 percent. These statistics represent a significant amount of organizational know-how simply walking out the door every year. Top-performing businesses take steps to capture and catalog that knowledge to reduce the impact of its loss.
With a shared understanding of what knowledge sharing is and why it’s vital, let’s look at how to increase it. And the good news is there are several easily implemented ways you can improve your organisations ability to share knowledge.
7 Practical Ways To Increase Knowledge Sharing In Your Business
1. Create The Right Environment
Not all workplace environments support knowledge transfer. Managers should lead by example and be willing to share their knowledge while also creating opportunities for others to do so. For instance, lunch-and-learn events, project team debriefs, and weekly learning roundups encourage workers to share their expertise.
Therefore, consider making knowledge transfer part of your company culture. And emphasize that sharing failures and successes is an integral part of the process.
Furthermore, ensure you have a physical setup to encourage knowledge sharing. Water coolers and coffee stations are naturals hubs for workers to gather and informally share insights. And consider introducing social spaces such as conference rooms with casual seating for informal get-togethers. Sometimes mixing things up with an off-site session at the coffee shop can spark innovation and creativity.
And for remote workers, these ideas will need to be replicated virtually. Intranet-based blogs, forums, webinars, and # channels are a great place to start.
2. Knowledge Sharing Techniques
Every employee is different. Some will be comfortable getting up in front of colleagues and sharing their knowledge. Others will prefer to use written communication to contribute their insights. Don’t just rely on one technique. Instead, be prepared with a wide variety of knowledge-sharing tools. That way, employees can pick and choose the method that works best for them.
For example, supplement formal mentoring and work shadowing arrangements with less formal quizzes, games, and simulations. Make use of wikis and podcasts for remote workers. And use how-to videos alongside SOPs.
3. Promote Cross-Team Collaboration
There’s no better way to encourage knowledge transfer than with cross-team collaboration. Joint working helps break down the departmental silos that often stand in the way of knowledge sharing. Project team members bring a wealth of individual experience and knowledge, which delivers a superior outcome when shared and combined. What a great advert that is for knowledge transfer and sharing.
And the best part is that team collaboration software allows workers to collaborate in real-time regardless of location. Remote workers can take play full and active roles just as their office-based colleagues.
4. Revamp Your Onboarding Process
When it comes to knowledge sharing, new hires is a great place to start. For most organizations, onboarding is a one-way passive process with the new hire absorbing vast amounts of information. However, recruits are encouraged to contribute their ideas and insights from day one in a knowledge-sharing culture. After all, the individual’s fresh perspective and bright ideas were probably some of the main reasons you hired them.
Knowledge-sharing organizations value the input of new hires from the start. They are encouraged to open up about their knowledge and past experiences for the benefit of colleagues. Managers and executives show a willingness to listen, and the new hire feels confident in contributing their ideas.
5. Encourage Employees To Create Content
Content is one of the main platforms for sharing knowledge. It could be in a variety of forms, including blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and webinars. Encourage team members to write their own content and create checklists or how-to videos individually or in small groups. And just like you would on social media, allow staff to share, comment, and like. Utilizing self-generated content in this way is empowering and engaging for employees.
6. Incentivize Knowledge Sharing
Many companies have found it helpful to incentivize knowledge transfer. A shoutout to an employee whose bright idea has resulted in cost savings or productivity gains is often all it takes. Or why not publicize tangible ways knowledge sharing has benefitted the company in the staff newsletter. Rewarding employees encourages others to get involved. And it’s another way to demonstrate how much you value the knowledge and expertise of your team.
7. Use The Company Intranet
Knowledge-sharing platforms work best when they are integrated with existing workplace apps. Already used by staff daily, the intranet can also serve as a highly effective platform for sharing organizational knowledge. With an intranet, you can bring knowledge directly to your employees in an environment they are already familiar with.
Under one virtual roof are a variety of tools that support knowledge sharing. Select from the following great features to kickstart knowledge sharing in your business:
- Activity walls and follow-me functionality to showcase expert knowledge
- Forums and project spaces to brainstorm ideas and problem solve
- Automated forms and checklists to capture expertise and assess understanding
- Centralized library of policies, procedures, data, and information organized in a way that’s logical to your business
- Easy file sharing both internally and externally
- Instant messaging for the speedy resolution of queries
- # channels and notifications on trending topics
- Employee profiles that highlight knowledge make it easy for staff to identify internal experts
- Newsfeeds to keep everyone informed and celebrate the wins achieved through knowledge sharing.
Knowledge Sharing For Today’s Workplace
Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends survey has underlined the importance of knowledge sharing in today’s digital workplaces. Deloitte identifies knowledge as being a key competitive differentiator and diver for business performance.
According to Deloitte’s survey, 75 percent of respondents acknowledged that creating and preserving corporate knowledge is important or very important for their success. But only nine percent said they are very ready to address this trend.
Don’t be one of those unprepared companies.
The easy-to-implement, practical ideas outlined here will ensure your business capitalizes on the wealth of knowledge you already have.
Interested in finding out more on how an intranet solution can support knowledge sharing in your business? Get in touch with the expert team at MyHub. Our easy to setup and simple to manage intranets contain everything you need to promote effective knowledge sharing. Sign up for a free demo or 14-day trial and explore the possibilities today.