Knowledge management – how you encourage and control the flow of information, skills and expertise across your organisation – is essential for business growth.
Whilst previously you might have been able to rely on some level of organic transfer due to your employees working in the same building, COVID-19 has scattered teams (and the knowledge they hold within them) across remote and flexible working situations.
With at least some degree of flexible working looking like a permanent fixture post-pandemic, you’ll need to remodel your knowledge management practices if you want them to remain efficient.
Perhaps that’s why, in Deloitte’s 2020/2021 Human Capital Trends Report, 75% of organisations surveyed say creating and preserving knowledge across evolving workforces is important or very important for their success over the next 12-18 months. Only 9% consider themselves ‘very ready’ to address this issue, however – the trend with the biggest gap between awareness and readiness identified by the report.
If you’re starting to think about how you can maintain knowledge in this new environment, you can use your employee intranet as a knowledge management tool. Intranets make knowledge more accessible to your organisation, simplify basic information sharing, and encourage the creation of new business-wide best practices.
Why is knowledge management so important?
Your organisation successfully runs day in day out because of two different types of knowledge:
Explicit knowledge: knowledge that is easy to codify and teach, such as how to file expenses, report a data breach or use a photocopier.
Tacit knowledge: intuitive knowledge that is more difficult to express and share – for example, best practices developed by years of experience, or approaches to innovative thinking.
(Image source: psychologytoday.com)
Knowledge management is important because it retains each of these types of knowledge within your organisation. This means that if your workforce is remote, or experienced employees leave the business, you don’t lose access to these key knowledge assets.
Retaining knowledge and sharing information increases an organisation’s ability to make decisions efficiently. Your workforce can access both the explicit knowledge required for routine tasks, and tacit knowledge built up over years to create innovative solutions, services and products.
Direct results of a solid knowledge management strategy include increased innovation, higher customer satisfaction and heightened employee engagement. To realise these benefits, you’ll need to take a holistic approach to knowledge sharing, with serious commitment at executive level, dedication to creating an open, engaged company culture and, where appropriate, an investment in the right technology.
Here’s how your corporate intranet can help.
Make essential information available via a centralised repository
Each week, your workforce spends a significant amount of time trying to find the right information to do their jobs. If you gave them instant access to this knowledge, they could get more done more quickly, freeing time to focus on activities that offer more value to the business.
This is a particular issue for chasing up low-level process-based knowledge – how to order a staff uniform, for example, or how to file expenses, book leave or operate a particular bit of equipment.
Use your intranet to make essential knowledge immediately accessible to anyone who needs it. For example, you can use a centralised repository like a Knowledge Base, accessible via your company intranet, to store equipment manuals, process documents, employee guidebooks and established best practices. This eases time pressure on busy teams and frees employees to think creatively, strategically, and innovatively.
Centralise knowledge in an easily accessible repository
Use knowledge management systems to formalise employee training
To maintain productivity levels, you want to train new employees quickly during the onboarding process. You also need an efficient way of upskilling existing employees.
Particularly in remote or hybrid work environments, this can be difficult to do in person. Organising time, finding a way to deliver the training, and making sure the right expert is available all cause time delays.
One solution is to use an intranet knowledge management system to deliver formalised training programmes online.
Employees work through these on their own schedule, with automated alerts and reminders to help ensure that everything gets completed in good time. This creates a reliable framework for explicit knowledge transfer across your organisation.
Create content regularly – and encourage employees to do so too
The suggestions above are a great way of transferring knowledge across your organisation and offer major efficiency and productivity gains. But what about creating new knowledge, or making sure your organisation’s tacit knowledge evolves with the latest insights so that it remains relevant and useful?
This is a huge area in which existing knowledge management strategies fall short, according to Deloitte’s 2020/2021 Human Capital Trends survey.
Over half (55%) of respondents still defined knowledge management as “the simple documenting and disseminating of knowledge”. Only 36% link knowledge with action to drive value, with just 41% seeing knowledge creation as essential to developing new products, services, or solutions.
(Image source: deloitte.com)
Organisations with ahead-of-the-curve knowledge management strategies see knowledge creation as essential to company growth – and the actions employees need to take to achieve it.
Use your intranet to encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees. Social intranet features like open forums increase employee engagement and encourage sharing and discussion of best practices. As a result, your organisation generates up-to-the-minute knowledge that’s useful for driving strategy.
Content creation is another powerful knowledge generation tool. Regular articles from across the business break down knowledge silos and empower employees to use expertise from other teams to innovate in their own spheres.
Look for an intranet which offers an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) so you can create insightful content whenever you need to. Two-way publication, commenting and social sharing features are also essential in facilitating knowledge creation across the business.