15 benefits of Knowledge Sharing
Update August 2020
Elium has been developing knowledge-sharing solutions for over a decade. Working closely with our clients, we have seen first hand what happens when knowledge is efficiently shared throughout an organization. In this blog, we share 15 ways that we have seen companies benefit from intelligent knowledge management._
An organization’s most valuable resource is the knowledge of its people. No matter how special your business idea, what makes your company unique, is the people who make it happen. When employees share their knowledge, your organization reaps the benefits of everybody’s intelligence. That is why knowledge management plays a fundamental role in business success.
Why is knowledge sharing important?
Top players like Google and Microsoft know the importance of team alignment, employee engagement and creative collaboration. These processes all require the same foundations: effective knowledge sharing.
The open-floor offices of the 1990’s were all about the shared learning and collective creativity proven to bring business success to the world’s most prosperous enterprises. However, by the early 2000’s, managers had learned that it takes more than that to support collaboration.
Now, the focus is on supporting knowledge sharing and productive interaction. With teleworking rising, good knowledge sharing processes are more important than ever. Managers must ensure that collaboration and creativity flourish, even across a dispersed staff force.
Reaping the benefits
By now, most managers know the stats: knowledge management is essential. But what exactly does this mean?
Well, expert David J Skyrme describes it as ‘the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated processes... turning personal knowledge into corporate knowledge that can be widely shared throughout an organization and appropriately applied.’
According to global market intelligence firm, IDC, Fortune 500 companies lose at least $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge.
When a knowledge sharing structure is working well, the right people receive the right information at the right time. Also, they know where to look and how to share. From a management perspective, this means streaming information cleverly, to maximize its value without overwhelming your staff.
Types of knowledge
Obviously, not all knowledge is the same. In fact, in any organization, there are two basic types: explicit knowledge, and tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is factual material such as data, how-to guides, and memos. Tacit knowledge is harder to communicate. It includes cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes. But when it comes to achieving breakthroughs in the workplace, says organizational learning expert Jerry L. Wellman, tacit knowledge is even more important than explicit knowledge.
This is why services like Elium encourages clients to include all employees in their platform, and reach all teams, whatever their role. These platforms organize knowledge and direct it towards those who need it. Equally important, is the facet that they make it easier to share ideas and opinions. Indeed, many also have an inbuilt process for gathering feedback directly from employees and even customers. Also, they provide a central, online workspace for clearly articulating and disseminating your organization’s ethos, goals and beliefs.
In these ways, they transform tacit knowledge into explicit, written and easily communicated knowledge.
So, what do we know?
For 13 years, Elium’s software service has evolved along with clients’ needs. Digital developments have enabled dramatic improvements to the usability and complexity of these systems. We have seen businesses through a major recession, and watched as they achieved spectacular results by boosting their knowledge sharing efficiency. Our close relationship with our clients, and our emphasis on adapting to their diverse requirements, has given us great insight into what efficient knowledge management can bring to a company.
Benefits of Knowledge Sharing
Methods for knowledge management are becoming more and more sophisticated. Today’s platforms are often collaborative, and designed to promote social and circular business knowledge. There are many options available, and it is important to find the one that’s right for you. But one thing is for sure: knowledge-sharing matters.
Here are just some of the benefits of knowledge sharing that we have seen our clients achieve over the last 13 years.
1. Innovation & development
Clients come to us because they know that knowledge workers need to understand their organization and the competition(STEEP). We help them to create an efficient knowledge sharing system that draws all employees together. It makes staff aware of how the company is doing, and updates them about the market and the competition. So workers are able to keep track of what’s happening in the field and are inspired to think bigger.
Employee engagement means making sure everyone feels part of their organization. We know that 80% of workers feel they should be better informed about how company decisions are made. There is no doubt that knowledge sharing empowers employees. They are in the loop, and they know that their voice and expertise is valued. Indeed, when an employee feels heard, valued and involved, they are more engaged in their tasks.
Well-structured internal communication allows employees to better collaborate and distribute their shared workloads. A good system aligns teams to constantly fine-tune their priorities. When communications are clear and automatic, everyone is kept up-to-date and nothing falls through the cracks.
4. Quick thinking
By gathering a diverse range of opinions in one easy-to-access place, knowledge sharing strategies save managers time. At a glance, managers can identify the changes required to meet the needs of their employees.
5. Speedy delivery times
By the same token, efficient communication makes it quicker and easier to meet customer’s needs. When knowledge is shared efficiently, procedural improvements seamlessly integrate into the workings of the company.
6. Fast communication
Furthermore, by centralizing information, knowledge-sharing systems communicate important facts widely, and quickly.
For instance, when the COVID pandemic reached Europe, many of our clients found that their knowledge-sharing systems made it possible to shift to remote working at late notice. Basically, their systems could broadcast important decisions and procedural information, while also distributing relevant resources to individual workers.
7. Clear constraints
It goes without saying that when a company’s experiences are shared, mistakes are less likely to be repeated. That is, employees can clearly identify and avoid any blockages or constraints.
8. Direct feedback
A robust knowledge management system centralizes and instantly updates relevant knowledge. This can include market intelligence results, the impact of press and advertising campaigns, and business documents.
For example, at Ortis Laboratories, sales representatives post photos of product displays on the company’s knowledge-sharing platform, instantly sharing best practice.
9. An open forum
A good knowledge-sharing system allows all voices to be heard. This enriches the company culture. It creates room for staff creativity and development.
10. The story
Importantly, by recording a company’s successes and failures, knowledge-sharing platforms create clear company trajectories. Not only does this allow employees to learn from the mistakes of others, but it also helps them to see their role in the company story.
11. Pro-active pioneers
Of course, it is not always possible to know exactly what information each worker will need. While good knowledge sharing directs information to those who need it, it also makes all information accessible. Ideally, employees should be free to search an easy-to-navigate database for relevant documents, presentations and videos. In this way, knowledge-sharing strategies inspire proactive, self-led exploration of content.
12. Practices & procedures
Knowledge sharing is a way to standardize procedures and processes, so that employees feel comfortable and secure using them.
Elium client, Bouygues Construction is active in 80 countries and boasts 53,500 employees. The human resources department uses communication and knowledge-sharing system to create a more social workflow across the whole company. The system offers a very structured environment. It shares expertise and peer-to-peer recognition, and has become the go-to place for company policies.
13. Reassured employees
When they are properly informed, newcomers feel welcome and can work efficiently from the start. When team members move on, they know that they are leaving a legacy. Their knowledge will remain within the organization.
In fact, at Elium, our knowledge-sharing system allowed us to onboard new employees and conduct maternity handovers, even during the lockdown. This was because our system streamlined, stored and shared all relevant information.
14. Internal improvements
Employees have all the information they need to optimize methods, tools and techniques, as well as the freedom to question and improve their use.
15. Creating experts
When expertise is shared, it boosts the standard of the workforce. Employees can build on their skills and gain confidence, reducing the skills gap and widening the talent pool.
Agility is key
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to knowledge sharing. That said, the benefits of knowledge sharing are profound and can be game-changing.