Knowledge Sharing at the Workplace: Why It Is Important & How to Achieve It

Knowledge Sharing at the Workplace- Why It Is Important & How to Achieve It

Today’s ultra-fast work environment revolves around one thing – knowledge. 

When leveraged right, knowledge has the power to streamline work processes, shoot up employee productivity, and carve a positive growth graph for a business. 

But it’s easier said than done. 

Experienced employees and those at key positions in organizations hold critical business information. Yet, they hesitate to share it with others, thinking it will affect the competitive advantage they have. 

Hiding or hoarding information is a growing problem in workplaces that can substantially decrease productivity and create a siloed work culture. 

And eventually, your bottom line suffers!

Research shows that businesses lose $47 Million every year due to ineffective knowledge sharing. 

Worry not. We will ensure this doesn’t happen to you.  

Go through this blog to learn everything about knowledge sharing right from what it is and how you can improve it.

What Is Knowledge Sharing? 

Knowledge sharing is a process through which employees can easily share their knowledge, experiences, observations with everyone in the organization. This knowledge is shared on a common platform like a knowledge base so that employees across departments can access it anytime they need it. 

When knowledge is instantly available, employees are able to be their productive best and work to the best of their abilities. No more wasting time scrambling for information across emails or folders and no more shoulder taps.

Sharing and managing knowledge enables better decision-making, higher productivity, and improved performance. It also spurs innovation as employees have all the necessary information at their fingertips to think out of the box and bring a real change to your organization. 

Importance of Knowledge Sharing

Exchanging knowledge is critical to performing better at work. 

There is so much to learn from one another. Different employees have different skill sets, experiences, and something new to bring to the table that can inspire their co-workers and help them work better. 

A collaborative, knowledge-sharing culture is important to make company knowledge, best practices, department-specific information, and industry trends freely available to anyone and everyone who needs it. Harnessing this knowledge turns employees into productive resources who are competent to take your business forward with their innovative thinking and smart decision-making. 

Let’s get to the detailed benefits of knowledge sharing in the next section. 

Top Benefits of Knowledge Sharing

Company-wide knowledge sharing provides countless benefits for your employees as well as for your organization as a whole. Let’s look at some of the substantial benefits you can glean by embracing knowledge sharing.

1. Preserves Valuable Business Knowledge as Employees Retire or Resign

When employees resign, retire, or are sacked, the knowledge and experience they have gained in your organization also leave with them. This knowledge is an asset as it helps other teams work better and execute projects without getting affected when an employee leaves.

Therefore, having a dedicated knowledge-sharing system for employees is imperative. It encourages employees to share their ideas, experiences, and expertise from time to time, ensuring that the knowledge remains with you forever regardless of who leaves and who joins. 

Not just your current employees, but also the new ones who have just joined, or the ones you will be hiring in the future, can harness this knowledge to understand a process, task, or project.  

💡 Did you know? 

In a recent survey, one-third of firms rated their company’s knowledge-sharing culture as five or below it, on a scale of 10.

Company's Knowledge Sharing culture2. Shoots-Up Employee Productivity & Improves Business Performance

Most of the time, employees end up spending more time searching for information than doing the real work that hits their productivity to a large extent. 

Readily available information is an asset as it relieves them from digging through files, folders, and emails to get what they need and instead focus on doing the work that matters. Making critical information instantly available boosts employees’ productivity, enabling them to put their best foot forward and complete the tasks on time. 

When employees work with minimum friction and hassles, the business performance improves. 

💡 Did you know?

Employees spend 19% of their average workweek searching for information and 28% reading and answering emails.

Shoots-Up Employee Productivity & Improves Business Performance

Read More: 5 Expert Tips to Enhance Employee Productivity

3. Prevent Expensive Errors

Duplication of work results in wasted time and effort. This can be avoided when employees have reliable information with inputs and insights from different teams. Besides, it also avoids expensive errors on the part of employees and helps them work better and faster. 

For instance, if a team shares its experience related to a particular project – its execution process, the members involved in it, the challenges encountered, etc., it will serve as a guiding light for other teams. Various other departments can refer to this information and prepare themselves for similar challenges that might arise in their respective projects. 

Suppose this information wasn’t available, then what would happen? The same mistakes will keep occurring, impacting team productivity and final deliverables. 

💡 Did You Know?

Intel found that 60% of the problems it was facing while trying to improve its product line were already addressed by a different team. If this information was recorded, it could have saved the firm a lot of time and effort.

4. Inspire Innovation

When employees have valuable information at their fingertips, they are better equipped to think differently and come up with unique ideas.

Employees across departments can even share their ideas and thoughts and get suggestions from their colleagues. This system of sharing know-how and getting valuable feedback further inspires innovation in the work process. 

Exchanging knowledge encourages employees to come up with different ways of doing the same things, which further improves their performance at work.

The Side Effects of Knowledge Hoarding

When knowledge is hoarded, employees in an organization have no means of accessing it. In that case, they have to waste time in finding what they need or work without that knowledge – in both cases, it is the performance and productivity that suffer. 

Imagine a scenario where an employee at the managerial or consultant level, who is supposedly the go-to person on a particular subject matter, decides to resign from his role. The company will suddenly find itself at a complete loss as the knowledge this employee has, was never shared with others.

So, when he leaves the organization, the knowledge acquired over the years leaves with him. This means a considerable time and effort will have to be invested in training another employee or hiring a new one who has substantial experience or in-depth knowledge of that particular subject.

Besides increasing your expenses, this situation also affects various projects where that employee was actively involved.

All in all, it is a terrible situation. If the knowledge and expertise he had gained during his work tenure were recorded, this situation could be avoided.

Challenges in Knowledge Sharing

Like every other strategy, knowledge sharing too comes with its set of challenges. You wake up on a day and suddenly decide to create a knowledge-sharing culture – it doesn’t work this way. There are various challenges that hamper the execution of knowledge sharing. You should know about them, so you can take corrective actions on time.

1. Lack of Employee Support

Employees are at the center of knowledge sharing. Still, getting the support of your workforce for implementing a knowledge-sharing system can be the most daunting task. No doubt, you want the best for employees. But employees will still have inhibitions in accepting your knowledge sharing system. Lack of buy-in from employees is one of the major challenges you might face during the process.

2. Inadequate Tools

Effective knowledge sharing in the workplace is largely dependent on the technology you use. Inadequate tools can turn the process haywire, leading to poor results. Knowledge sharing doesn’t go as smoothly as it should without the right tools in place. This creates barriers to achieving the ultimate goals.

3. Outdated Knowledge

A knowledge-sharing system has to be maintained from time to time to provide the most relevant and updated information to employees. If not maintained properly, the system can soon turn ineffective and irrelevant.

4. Reluctance to Share Knowledge

The fear of losing competitive advantage looms large on employees, and therefore they are reluctant to share their valuable knowledge with others in an organization. They do so to maintain their competitive edge and become indispensable in the workplace. Employees are usually worried that if they divulge everything that they know, a company might not need them.

These challenges can sometimes come in the way of implementing a knowledge-sharing system. Involving at every step, familiarizing employees with the benefits of knowledge sharing, and using the right technology, can help you tackle these challenges.

Knowledge Sharing Methods

Here are the top methods to implement knowledge sharing in your organization and help employees make the most of internal information. 

1. Review & Learn

An ongoing review process allows employees involved in a project or activity to share their knowledge and experiences with everyone after every stage. They can talk about everything that happened and help other employees use this knowledge instantly. This is an easy way to capture lessons gained by a team or employee and allow everyone in your company to tap into this knowledge to deliver better performance at work.

2. Mentoring

Mentoring happens when two people work together on a project or activity where one person learns from the other. It is a relationship-oriented knowledge sharing technique where knowledge is passed down from a more experienced and knowledgeable individual to an employee who is new to the subject. Enabling your key employees to regularly share knowledge is a great way to constantly upskill your workforce, keep them updated, and drive innovation.

3. Assistance from Peers

This method allows peers to work together, learn collectively, and build useful networks within the team. In this, peers regularly help one another, celebrate wins, conquer challenges, identify and solve problems – together as a unified team. This improves the skills and knowledge of everyone involved in the process. 

4. Online Knowledge Sharing

Another effective and easiest way to cultivate an environment of knowledge sharing is via online platforms. Creating an internal knowledge base allows employees across teams to share their knowledge, insights, and experiences on this cloud-based platform. This valuable knowledge is stored in the cloud and accessible 24×7 for everyone, paving the way for convenient, anytime, anywhere learning. 

Here is a quick video to explain more about an internal knowledge base –

All these ways when combined with an internal knowledge base help you tap into the immense knowledge held by employees and create a learning culture that drives team collaboration, upskilling, and efficiency.

How to Cultivate Knowledge Sharing Culture

For knowledge-sharing to become a crucial part of your work environment, here are some tips to guide you in the right direction.

1. Revamp Your Office Interiors

Office premises should be warm enough for employees to feel welcomed and comfortable at work. Physical space has a significant role to play when it comes to building a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Too bright wall colors can be distracting, while too light colors can be demotivating. No conference rooms or casual hangout places for after-lunch discussions is a sign that your organization doesn’t take knowledge-sharing seriously. 

No one will want to be in a place that’s dull and drab, lifeless, and out of sorts. So focus on refurbishing your office space in case it’s not up to the mark or lacks dedicated conference rooms, chit-chat stations for those End of Day discussions, coffee points, and more.

Make your office space suitable for deep conversations, network building, and knowledge sharing.

2. Reward Knowledge Sharing Efforts

Sharing knowledge doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Employees have to put in extra effort and take out time from their busy schedules to share knowledge. Rewarding this hard work is essential to keep them enthusiastic about knowledge sharing.

Offer rewards and provide incentives to encourage them to speak their minds and share valuable information with teams. Something as simple as a gift card, bonus, or an appreciation post, highlighting an individual’s contributions can keep employees motivated and interested in sharing knowledge.

3. Create a Dedicated Knowledge Sharing Platform

Knowledge sharing doesn’t have to be a cumbersome or time-consuming task. Try to keep it simple and straightforward by creating a centralized cloud-based platform where employees can share knowledge, give feedback, and get suggestions.

Bring the best minds of your organization together and allow them to regularly share their learnings on this platform for everyone to access. Modern knowledge base software tools have all the necessary features that make knowledge sharing easier for employees. From authoring and designing to publishing the content across web and mobile platforms, such tools help you do it all.

4. Encourage Experts to Share Knowledge

Quick access to expert knowledge prevents expensive mistakes and drives better performance at work. That’s precisely why it is crucial to encourage experts to share their knowledge with everyone. Subject-matter experts, being highly skilled people, are likely to have a tight schedule. This can be a major hurdle in the process of knowledge sharing.

You can overcome this challenge by explaining to experts how valuable they are to your organization and how critical their knowledge is for your business’s success. 

Understand that this task can be an additional burden on them, so try to make the process as easy as possible. Provide them with a knowledge-sharing system where they can write content, attach files, and share information on the go or even while working.

5. Have a Proper Process

A formal process is necessary for knowledge sharing to happen in a certain way and deliver great results. Employees should be familiar with this process and abide by it to ensure that every team has access to company know-how and expertise.

With a proper process, the risk of losing valuable information that can benefit employees reduces to a minimum. You can keep track of who added the information when it was edited and published, who has access to it, and a lot more. 

This is possible if you have the right knowledge base tool. 

Such tools allow you to add users and assign them roles such as editor, contributor, and administrator. Based on these roles, you can define their responsibilities and gain full control over what they can do. When all members know what they are supposed to do, the knowledge-sharing process gets more streamlined, with some adding the content and others reviewing and managing it.

6. Embrace an Employee-First Approach

Employees form the foundation of an organization, so any policy you make should revolve around them. Your approach should be – “Of the Employees, By the Employees, For the Employees.” When this happens, building a knowledge-sharing culture will be easier.

Give employees an atmosphere wherein they can speak their minds, ask for help, contribute to various projects, and participate in activities without being judged. This will ultimately lead to a work culture where knowledge is constantly shared at the individual and team levels.

Offer support every time an employee puts extra effort to share knowledge. Create an environment of trust and openness so that employees don’t hesitate to share what they know and ask what they don’t. 

Knowledge Sharing Tools

For creating a knowledge-sharing culture, getting the right tool is the first step in the right direction. Technology can bolster your efforts and make it easy for employees to share knowledge. 

But since there are scores of tools available in the market, you’ve got to be a little careful while selecting one. Here are a few essential features you cannot miss out:

  • A powerful search function
  • Easy to use editing and publishing options
  • Interlinking of articles
  • User management and permissions
  • Authorized access
  • Revision history and version control
  • Import and export of files
  • Options to embed media, and more. 

These are some of the major features that allow employees to create, share, and manage knowledge on a centralized platform so that everyone in your organization can access it. 

ProProfs Knowledge Base is one such software that offers these and many more features to make knowledge sharing successful. It helps you create a unified knowledge platform where employees can collaborate to create and share knowledge. The tool allows you to write, edit, and publish a knowledge-sharing platform in minutes. Besides this, there are also options to brand and design the content so that it looks and feels more engaging to read.

Watch this video to learn about the tool’s features and functionalities.

Support Employee Development, Growth, & Innovation

When ideas and information flow freely, employee growth and development are definite. Employees have access to expertise, industry know-how, and other critical knowledge right at their fingertips. This completely changes the way they work and perform. 

The time that otherwise gets wasted over calls, emails, and digging through documents, can now be utilized in doing their jobs effectively. This makes way for better performance, innovation, and overall organizational growth. 

Promote knowledge sharing in your organization by rewarding employees who put efforts in this direction, adopting the right tool, and having a dedicated process in place.

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.