Knowledge Sharing: What it is, Why it’s Important, and How to Boost it at Your Organization

Jacob Thomas

In today's ultra competitive, cut-throat business environment, effective knowledge sharing can be the difference between mediocre company results and record breaking success. Every organizational department, from the marketing team to the customer support crew, can benefit from knowledge sharing.

In today's ultra competitive, cut-throat business environment, effective knowledge sharing can be the difference between mediocre company results and record breaking success. Every organizational department, from the marketing team to the customer support crew, can benefit from knowledge sharing.In today's ultra competitive, cut-throat business environment, effective knowledge sharing can be the difference between mediocre company results and record breaking success. Every organizational department, from the marketing team to the customer support crew, can benefit from knowledge sharing.

Four people interlocking their hands in a square shape.



In today's ultra competitive, cut-throat business environment, effective knowledge sharing can be the difference between mediocre company results and record breaking success. Every organizational department, from the marketing team to the customer support crew, can benefit from knowledge sharing.


In this article, we'll explore what knowledge sharing is, three main benefits of sharing knowledge at work, and four ways to boost knowledge sharing at your company. Let's jump in!

What is Knowledge Sharing?

Let's start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, knowledge sharing is:

"an activity through which knowledge (namely, information, skills, or expertise) is exchanged among people, friends, families, communities, or organizations."

So, in a nutshell, knowledge sharing is exactly what it sounds like — people exchanging the information they have with one another. The nature of the information is largely irrelevant and could be about a specific topic or cover how to perform a certain task or activity.

In a workplace setting, knowledge sharing often manifests itself in the teaching of employees or colleagues how to perform company processes, where to locate organizational tools and resources, and other critical job functions.

3 Benefits of Sharing Knowledge at Work

So what's the big deal? Why should your organization go above and beyond to ensure knowledge sharing at your business is not only painless, but actually enjoyed by its workers? There are three main benefits to sharing knowledge at work. They are:

1. Improved Company Culture

There's no doubt about it, knowledge sharing leads to improved company culture because it fosters a community of continuous learning and trust. A company whose team members are constantly striving to improve naturally attracts better employees. These businesses can also adapt quicker to unfavorable situations which reduces workplace tension.

Trust is another byproduct of knowledge sharing. Colleagues that truly trust each other are much more likely to develop friendships, find joy in their work, and stick around longer — an important fact as employee turnover has been proven to cost companies as much as $213,000 to replace team members, depending on their position.

2. Better Decision Making

Did you know that knowledge sharing can also lead to better decision making? It's true! When a company has a central database of information that can be easily shared, top decision makers can access it and learn from the experiences of others very quickly.

They simply search for the information they need and then use it to inform the choices they make for their company. It's a straightforward solution to an expensive problem — bad decision making costs companies an average of 7,000 a day.

3. Increased Team Productivity

Lastly, knowledge sharing can improve team productivity on three different levels:

  1. First, effective knowledge sharing will reduce the amount of time that team members spend looking for answers to their questions. This is important since nearly one third of employees spend 20 minutes or more searching for information. 20 MINUTES! That's a lot of time that would be better spent on other, more productive tasks.
  1. Second, knowledge sharing ensures that the best and quickest ways of performing tasks become standard practice. If Jimmy in customer success discovers a more efficient way to sort and prioritize customer complaint tickets and shares his new methodology with the rest of his team, everyone can start performing that task more productively.
  1. And third, when knowledge is shared and each member of your team knows exactly how to perform specific tasks and activities, they'll be able to do so quicker and with less mistakes. It just makes sense. The more familiar and comfortable a person is in their work, the more productive they'll be able to be.

Knowledge sharing reduces the amount of time it takes to find information, helps improved methodologies become standard company processes, and ensures that each team member know exactly how to perform their jobs at all times.

How to Boost Knowledge Sharing at Your Organization

Red, green, and white fireworks in the sky.

"Okay," you're thinking, "knowledge sharing sounds great! But how do I actually boost it at my organization?" That's what we'll cover in this section. Keep reading to learn four ways you can increase knowledge sharing at your place of work.


1. Encourage Knowledge Sharing

Let's start with the easiest and most obvious way to boost knowledge sharing at your organization: simply ask your team to do it! Ground breaking, we know. But if you don't actually encourage your team to share what they know, they might not ever think to do it. 

But there is a catch to this tip. You need to make it as simple as possible for folks to share. That means creating multiple ways for them to do so. For example, you could:

  • Set Aside Time for Face-to-Face Meetings: Some people love face-to-face interaction and will feel most comfortable sharing their knowledge when physically present with their colleagues. Give them this opportunity! Set aside time, either once a week or twice a month, for folks to talk and bounce ideas off of one another.
  • Allow Team Members to Contribute Content: Not everyone thrives in face-to-face situations. For these people, try asking them to write out their thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. You may even consider setting a monthly knowledge sharing quota for each team member. That way the information they glean is consistently put to good use.

Whichever strategy you decide to employ, make sure that you ask your employees to start sharing their knowledge before you use any of the other tips in this article. Who knows? Making your request known may be all it takes.

2. Incentivize Knowledge Sharing

You could go one step beyond simply asking your team to share their knowledge with each other and actually incentivise them to do so. We all love rewards and this extra little push may be the perfect way to jumpstart knowledge sharing at your organization.

Fortunately, your incentives don't need to be extravagant or expensive. You could, for instance, recognize employees who excel in this area in a company-wide email blast or a public social media post. Or you could go even further and reward employees who share knowledge with a small prize like a t-shirt or water bottle.

The rewards you offer will completely depend on your company and the resources at your disposal. But whatever you do, just make sure the rewards are enticing to your team.

3. Create Space to Share

Most folks in leadership positions don't realize that the physical layout of their office is incredibly important to effective knowledge sharing. Think about the last time you visited a McDonald's or some other fast food restaurant. Everything in these spaces, from the uncomfortable seating to the close proximity of all the tables, is designed to move customers in and out as fast as possible.

Don't set your office up this way! It will only discourage knowledge sharing. Instead, make your workspace an area your team will enjoy being in and will feel comfortable sharing information.

There are a couple of ways that you can do this without knocking down walls and completely renovating your office space:

  • Add a Coffee Bar: In case you haven't noticed, the world is completely obsessed with coffee. If you add a coffee bar (or two or three!) to your office, it will get used. And when folks come to pour themselves a fresh brew, they'll have time to shoot the breeze and discuss work related topics. In other words, they'll share knowledge.
  • Set Up Conference Rooms: Conference rooms are designed to facilitate conversation and get people to share ideas. So making sure that your office space has a few dedicated conference rooms is a no-brainer if you want to experience the benefits of sharing knowledge at work that we mentioned earlier.

Just remember, not every conference room needs to be setup and furnished in the traditional way. Instead of one long table with surrounding office chairs, try creating a room with smaller tables and couches. Get crazy and throw a couple bean bag chairs in there! Just make it a place that people want to be in. That's the key.

These two ideas are simple ways to increase knowledge sharing at your place of work. We encourage you to try them out for your organization!

4. Use the Right Software Tools

Last but certainly not least, we recommend investing in the right software tools to help facilitate effective knowledge sharing in your workplace. Here are four tools you could use:

Beekeeper

The logo for Beekeeper.io.

Source: Startup

Have you ever heard of Beekeeper? It's a complete intranet software that allows companies to communicate securely and boost productivity. Team members can access the app on any internet-capable device and message each other; share news in a private, company-wide social media like feed; recognize each other by tagging colleagues, and much more.

Admins of the app even have access to employees surveys which they can use to gauge job satisfaction levels and programmable chat bots that will answer employee questions automatically! How cool is that?

When it comes to knowledge sharing, Beekeeper will give you the tools you need to do it efficiently and securely.


Slack

The logo for Slack.

Source: The Daily Dot

You've probably heard of Slack before. Heck, you've probably even used it yourself! It's incredibly popular — with good reason. This tool makes internal communication a breeze. Conversations can be organized into different channels for each company department, specific projects, or individual clients. And unlike lengthy email chains, users can leave and rejoin chats whenever they like.

Another handy feature included with Slack is it's searchable history, which makes it an excellent knowledge sharing tool. Any user can easily search through old conversations to find specific data, understand the context around certain decisions, or learn how past issues were resolved.

Finally, Slack also offers voice and video calls, drag and drop file sharing, and integrations with other well-loved tools like Salesforce, Trello, and Google Drive.

Evernote

The logo for Evernote.

Source: Creative Bloq

Evernote is another popular app. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's basically a note taking app on steroids that will allow you to organize just about anything — text documents, todo lists, photos, videos — and keep them all securely stored in the cloud.

In fact, it's Evernote's cloud capabilities that make it such a useful tool for knowledge sharing. Anytime a note is added to or updated in an Evernote account, the changes will automatically sync across all devices. Which means your information database will be the same no matter who access it or what they access it on.

And just like Slack (mentioned above), Evernote integrates with popular tools like Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, and Zapier.

CloudApp

The logo for CloudApp.


CloudApp is visual communication at its finest. Use our tool to record your screen or your face (via your computer's webcam), create fun and educational GIFs, or quickly annotate images. Then easily send your creations to colleagues and share your knowledge with them.

Studies show that visual information is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than plain text. Use this to your advantage!

With CloudApp you can quickly shoot tutorial videos and get your points across faster by annotating your images with arrows, text boxes, and emojis. Everything you create with our app is safely stored in the cloud for easy access; ready whenever you need it.

The best part? CloudApp can be used for free! Create your account today and start using our tool to share knowledge with your team.

Commit to Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing will benefit every department within your company and make your staff more productive. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help boost knowledge sharing at your place of business. Just make sure you:

  1. Encourage Knowledge Sharing
  2. Incentivise Knowledge Sharing
  3. Create Space to Share, and
  4. Use the Right Software Tools

And don't forget about CloudApp, our visual communication tool that makes knowledge sharing a piece of cake. Get access to intuitive webcam and screen recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features by signing up for your free account today.

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