As corporate organizations get more digital and employees have access to a ton of information, the concept of knowledge sharing becomes critical.
Not only is knowledge sharing important for the internal communication between executives and employees, but to develop a more unified and engaged workforce.
It might seem obvious why knowledge sharing is important, but not all companies “get it” or even focus on a “knowledge sharing culture.”
Today, there are more benefits and a need for a knowledge sharing strategy than ever before.
Below, you’ll find the sections that will be covered:
- What is Knowledge Sharing?
- The Benefits of Knowledge Sharing for Businesses
- How to Increase Knowledge Sharing Within Your Org
What is Knowledge Sharing?
You might have a good idea of what knowledge sharing is, but it’s still good for us to put our full definition to it so we are all on the same page.
That being said, what is knowledge sharing?
Defined, it means an activity through which knowledge (information, skills, or expertise) is exchanged among other colleagues, friends, families, or organizations.
Yet, knowledge goes beyond just consuming information. Knowledge is about the “how” and “why,” plus the full experience behind something.
Think of it as going well beyond just being informed, as knowledge sharing helps ensure more employees become experts and are armed with more than the basics.
“More than 80% of Americans say employee communication is key to developing trust with their employers. (Lexicon)
74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)
This is why companies and large organizations look for ways to improve their knowledge sharing internally and externally to their core audiences. And of course, there are a few benefits (which we will get to below).
And like any strategy, there potentially will be a few challenges with knowledge sharing like:
- How can organizations effectively ensure everyone in the organization has an equal opportunity of easily being informed?
- What can organizations do to get employees more comfortable and less resistant to sharing their knowledge and insights?
- And how can organizations manage the information overload we have in this digital era?
Many of the challenges are alleviated with processes and technology to help make it easier. But even then, you still need to be involved with your strategy deployment.
Benefits of Knowledge Sharing for Businesses
Now that we understand more about knowledge sharing and what it is, what are the actual benefits to it? Below are a few advantages of knowledge sharing.
Fosters innovation and productivity
Allowing employees to properly share knowledge and having that knowledge be easily accessible can help your organization deliver better results.
The stimulation of innovation and knowledge helps the workforce be more productive, increases idea sharing, and keeps your company on the cusp of new trends and strategies.
Collaboration and feedback
By showing how important knowledge sharing is to your company, employees are more open to collaborate and provide feedback between departments.
Instead of being reluctant to share ideas or thoughts, it keeps your company as an open community of knowledge.
Feedback is also important because it allows everyone to express opinions and be involved in a greater conversation for the company good.
A more involved workforce
Opening knowledge sharing ensures more employees are involved with information outside of their own departments.
It encourages your workforce to openly communicate with others, connect with executives, and overall feel more valued as an employee.
Your company’s employees want to feel like their knowledge and ideas matter. Give them those opportunities to share and you have a workforce more involved with their job and company.
Creating more individual experts
By sharing expert information, all employees can build on their skills and feel confident in their knowledge.
And when your organization openly allows employees access to this important information, you’re creating a team of experts who can showcase their skills further.
A knowledgeable workforce is noticed by prospects, customers, and talent
When you have a team of informed and knowledgeable employees, outsiders of the organization take notice too.
This includes prospects, current customers, and talent looking to work for a great company. External people will see this via trade shows, networking events, content, and social media.
According to Weber Shandwick, 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company.
Imagine your knowledge sharing efforts and how far they will reach with employees showing their expertise?
Reducing business costs and time
When employees are sharing their knowledge, experiences, and challenges to everyone, it eliminates future company mistakes and time wasted.
Different departments have experiences with strategies, ideas, programs, and technologies from previous jobs that can be beneficial to know before any implementation.
How to Increase Knowledge Sharing Internally
There are numerous ways to increase knowledge sharing within your company, whether it’s a combination of things or focusing on just a few key areas, it will be different for all businesses.
Some employees may not feel comfortable in meetings speaking up, others might not be confident in their writing ability, etc.
But encouraging various forms of ways to communicate knowledge and expertise will open the doors for more interest and collaboration.
Let’s dive into four ways to increase knowledge sharing internally.
Content is a key way to spread knowledge and allow other employees to read on their own time. The more accessible your content is made, and the more thought is being put into it, the more effective sharing knowledge will be.
The content can be for internal use only or used on a company blog that fuels knowledge for both internal and external purposes. It also for everything to be documented and easily distributable to employees.
Ask and encourage employees to write content, create checklists, or even just contribute in small portions to teams who do write content. Their ideas can be valuable topics and their insights can encourage more employees to get involved.
While emailing employees information is important, a lot of it can go unnoticed or forgotten. It’s where technology plays a key role in the distribution of knowledge.
The right technology can stream the content, allow employees a central location for information, allow a way to share this knowledge, and a place to leave feedback and engage with others.
This is where an employee advocacy platform like EveryoneSocial can be key. With mobile apps and integrations, it’s a central location for employees to interact and share valuable information
Everything from documents, blog posts, third-party resources, videos, and more can be organized. Beside including read-only information, companies can open up sharing which allows employees to directly share content with their social networks.
Onboarding of new hires
This is the perfect opportunity to ingrain the values of sharing knowledge — when new hires are starting their onboarding and training.
Being new and unsure can cause newer employees to not feel as comfortable sharing ideas, opinions, or information that could otherwise be valuable to your company.
The goal should be to instill how valuable their feedback, insights, and skills are from day one. This way they feel more encouraged to speak up sooner.
To do this:
- Ensure whatever team and manager the new hires work with that they will ask and value the new hires’ input from the start.
- Provide new hires with a mentor that they can go to and share ideas with, if they are not comfortable in a larger setting or group.
Encouragement and openness from management
No longer are executives and management the only people with knowledge and good ideas. Everyone has different experiences, information, and past job experiences that could lead to important knowledge sharing.
Your company must foster open communication and an openness to here employees out.
Leaders and management that show a willingness to listen will encourage others to open up about what they know. Don’t dismiss their knowledge, regardless of how important it may be.
Additionally, your company can offer incentives to employees who get involved and provide useful knowledge. Whether that is a mention in newsletters, announcements, small prizes, etc. Incentives can help kickstart collaboration and get employees more invested in knowledge sharing.
As you can see from above, knowledge sharing is extremely important to your company and to employees. It also makes a difference in your company’s growth, collaboration, brand, and productivity.
Spreading valuable knowledge not only keeps your workforce informed but affects the external audience’s view of your company and employees.
Having a knowledge army of experts will only benefit your business for the foreseeable future and give you a leg-up on competitors who lag behind in this area.