A successful company needs a team who has the skills and knowledge to help it survive and thrive. The knowledge within your workforce is as valuable an asset as your premises, products, and services. 

Effective knowledge sharing within your team is a way to make your workplace as up-skilled, up-to-date, and well-trained as possible. Utilizing the store of expertise that each team member holds, and ensuring they have the opportunity, time, and tools to pass this knowledge on to their colleagues, is essential.

Not only is knowledge sharing a vital strategy to enhance workplace productivity, it can also reduce your firm’s training budget, improve staff morale and make your business more competitive.

Let’s look at why knowledge sharing is so valuable for business, and how to improve knowledge sharing in your workplace.

What Is Knowledge Sharing?

In basic terms, knowledge sharing means one team member passing on information, skills, and experience to their colleagues. Sometimes this is a formalized and structured ‘teaching’ session, but it can also be informal, or done via online forums, in-person-get-togethers or mentoring.

Knowledge sharing is an effective way of enhancing business communication, as well as training staff. 

Looking at it another way, knowledge sharing is an essential form of collaboration and teamwork. As the chart below shows, most employees view collaboration within a company as a positive and beneficial process.

A workforce that communicates, collaborates and shares its knowledge is one that has the best chance of rolling with the changes and challenges of a competitive and ever evolving, global business world.

Image Sourced from zippia.com

Some Benefits of Knowledge Sharing

One statistic gives the number of respondents who blame poor communication for failings within companies as 86%. Good communication, on the other hand, including knowledge sharing techniques can enhance employee productivity and create a culture of problem-solving and growth. 

Let’s look in detail at the benefits of knowledge sharing on employee development and business success.

Retains knowledge and reduces costs

A culture of learning and sharing knowledge has one key benefit: expertise and skills don’t leave the company when an individual moves on. If that person has shared what they know and helped train colleagues, valuable knowledge and know-how is retained.

A culture of knowledge sharing reduces training costs. Formal training sessions can be costly, and also take time away from daily business tasks. But it doesn’t have to be formal training like that, just an informal question like, for instance, “How to unsubscribe from emails”, can lead staff to share collective knowledge and together fill any gaps, being far less costly in terms of money and time. 

Builds community and engagement

Colleagues who communicate and share knowledge regularly, form better bonds and working relationships. This builds a sense of community within the business and raises levels of staff engagement and loyalty, because individuals feel part of something, and are committed to the company’s success.

Boosts efficiency and performance

Knowledge sharing means continuous learning, this means that employees are ongoingly helped to do their jobs better and improve performance. 

Well trained employees make fewer errors, are more productive, and waste less time through mistakes or inexperience. Managers with well-trained teams also waste less time answering questions, and intervening when staff run into tasks they lack the skills for. 

To make the whole operation more efficient and productive it’s also important to know where valuable knowledge is gathered in the first place. 

Even if your company is using technology such as interactive voice response systems, it is important to determine quickly if the caller wants to contact the billing department, the technical support team, or simply wants to talk to a human operator. Up to date knowledge enhances performance and helps the business run smoothly.

Six Effective Ways To Improve Knowledge Sharing

We’ve looked at the main advantages in broad terms of knowledge sharing. Now we’ll look at ways to facilitate and increase knowledge sharing within a business.

1. Promote a knowledge sharing culture

Team leaders who want to encourage the sharing of knowledge as one of their organizational goals must ensure the whole workforce is involved. 

Knowledge sharing should become best practice in every department and at every level. The organizational culture of the business should encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing from the top down. It’s vital for managers to lead by example, and share their knowledge with each other and their teams.

It’s also important to include remote workers, and part-time employees. This may require specific channels and platforms for staff to communicate ideas and share skills. 

Remember to reward and motivate staff who have important expertise they can share. 

This could mean that staff who use some of their own free time to teach their colleagues could be given time off, bonuses, or other rewards.

Encouraging staff to share their knowledge base should become something that is praised and talked about at staff appraisals and reviews. Make it clear that sharing knowledge is an achievement that is admired and valued as a contribution to the business.

2. Create spaces for knowledge sharing 

Having encouraged your staff to share their knowledge and ensured that your business has a culture of peer to peer tuition and teaching, it’s important to have the environment to support this.

Whether these are physical spaces or virtual spaces, employees need places to get together, talk, and share information. Your knowledge sharing spaces will need the right facilities, this may depend to an extent on the type of business you run, but anything from white boards, to VR headsets should be available.

In terms of the physical office space, audit your facilities and the layout, assess whether it’s really conducive to knowledge sharing. If you are unsure, ask your staff for their views, and encourage suggestions about how to improve the physical environment.

Many offices are fairly tightly packed in terms of work stations and equipment. Space can feel cluttered and busy, and staff can find they are shuttered off into cubicles and separate corners. Make sure you have an open, comfortable space, with chairs and tables arranged in a way that is sociable and right for communication and exchanging ideas.

For remote teams, make sure you have an equally comfortable and user-friendly virtual space. Encourage in-house staff to visit this space and join in with remote staff chats and sessions.

To further enhance connectivity and recognition among team members, consider incorporating business headshots in the company directory or communication platforms. This visual addition can help personalize interactions and strengthen team cohesion.

3. Invite specialists to share their knowledge

Keeping up with industry trends and making sure your business has the knowledge it needs may mean getting in external experts. This can be a valuable method for addressing skills gaps and encourages a further exchange of ideas beyond the limits of your own business.

This need not be formal training sessions, external experts could be invited to give informal talks and workshops that can boost the knowledge base of your employees and further encourage a vibrant learning culture.

There is also a way to involve your employees in the sharing of the knowledge that the external experts impart. A small group could be chosen to meet with the expert, before teaching these new ideas or skills to their coworkers. 

This will reinforce the culture of knowledge sharing, and demonstrate that managers value their staff enough to entrust them with helping coworkers up-skill.

4. Establish a knowledge sharing process

To be really effective, a systematic approach to knowledge sharing is desirable. Make all employees aware that you are a knowledge sharing enterprise. Publicize examples of how staff members have shared their skills and know-how, and let team members know about incentives for doing so.

We’ve talked about how knowledge sharing is just good communication, and ease of communication is certainly important if staff are going to share their expertise and information.

It’s vital to iron out any hitches in the way staff communicate with each other, make the channels of communication effective and easy, audit your online and telephone systems, look at dedicated phone numbers for businesses, and cloud storage solutions for information sharing.

Host sessions to show employees the benefit of knowledge sharing, and explain how and where sharing information and informal training sessions can be carried out. You can also choose a team member (or better still ask for a volunteer) in each department to be a knowledge sharing champion. 

This will be someone other workers can approach with an idea for sharing their expertise or something useful they have recently learnt. The knowledge sharing champion can then set up meetings or informal chats with the rest of the team to facilitate knowledge sharing sessions.

5. Invest in knowledge sharing tools and technology

As we have said, knowledge sharing is simply an educational form of collaboration. But to be effective, as well as creating spaces and setting up an efficient process for knowledge sharing, having the right tools and technology is important.

If you look at the chart below, you will see the range and popularity of various technological tools for collaborating in the workplace, as well as the benefits of using these tools.

From web based screen sharing to specialist apps, to being able to collaborate on the editing of documents, these collaboration tools are crucial for knowledge sharing in the workplace. But having the right communication channels for your business is also key. Not all businesses have the same needs or set up.

For example, you may be a business with a large remote team, in this case, having an effective online or cloud knowledge sharing platform would be a valuable asset. You need an effective way for a disparate workforce to safely share critical knowledge and skills.

Other firms may have the majority of their workers in one location, but have large teams that don’t mix or work together on a daily basis. This situation may require good knowledge management software to allow team members in a large, spread out facility to communicate and share information effectively, but not necessarily online. 

In other words, secure, internal systems that can connect and allow smooth communication between different groups. In this way, individuals or teams with valuable knowledge to share can schedule in person sessions or informal chats via the internal platform, and ensure that knowledge sharing is timetabled and actioned.

Video conferencing, apps and even AI-powered sharing technology are all options depending on the nature and needs of your business. Furthermore, implementing digital contracts can provide a secure and verifiable method to manage the permissions and commitments involved in sharing critical knowledge, ensuring all parties adhere to agreed standards and regulations.

In choosing the right tools and technology, consider looking at your competitors or businesses that are similar in crucial ways, and find out how they handle knowledge sharing and which tools work for them.

Don’t be afraid to consult your workforce and managers. Find out about their needs, and get ideas and suggestions around knowledge sharing tools and technology. Be led by need and practicality, don’t just go for the shiniest or newest tool. 

Find tools that fit your business and will help your staff communicate and connect. In some businesses a more low tech approach may work, others will need state of the art technology. 

6. Ask for feedback

Feedback can help you establish the best approach to knowledge sharing from the outset and throughout the changes or initiatives you apply.

Firstly, ask through surveys or informal meetings what your team would like to help and encourage them to share knowledge. It may be that they just need dedicated time away from daily tasks, or they may want a dedicated physical or online space, or specialist technological tools. The important thing is to ask.

Feedback should also be sought as you make changes and introduce innovations and new practices. Utilizing employee surveys is an excellent way to systematically gather feedback on the effectiveness of knowledge sharing practices and to identify areas for improvement. These surveys can provide critical insights that help refine strategies and ensure they meet the needs of all team members.

It’s vital to check if what you have created is working. Remember to check in periodically with staff on an ongoing basis. They are the ones who can really tell you how effectively you are fostering knowledge sharing in the workplace.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge sharing, as we have discussed, has many benefits to a business; it can stave off knowledge loss, and keep your workforce skilled-up and abreast of current approaches and information.

It can even help with employee retention, by creating a sharing and supportive work environment where workers feel that management, and fellow team members care and are invested in their development and training. 

But more than any of these benefits, encouraging and facilitating knowledge sharing, is an expression of your company values. It positions your business in the hearts and minds of your workforce, as well as potential hires, as an organization that believes in growth and development and never stagnating or being satisfied to stay still. 

Knowledge sharing is the mark of a forward thinking, and constantly growing business, and that is something to be proud of and to share with the world.

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