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How Knowledge Management Improves Productivity and the Employee Experience

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How Knowledge Management Improves Productivity and the Employee Experience

Nov 16, 2021   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Madeline Jacobson

At its core, the field of knowledge management is focused on connecting people with the knowledge they need to work successfully. A big part of that is improving productivity, which is a win for both businesses and employees. 

According to Forrester Research’s Employee Experience Maturity Assessment, “What matters most for employee engagement is being able to make daily progress in the work that they perceive matters most.” In other words, employees want to be productive and feel that they are having a tangible impact on their organization. And to be successful, they need access to tools and resources to help them make informed decisions, overcome blockers, and meet their goals. 

How Knowledge Management Impacts Productivity 

Modern knowledge management involves centralizing the collective intelligence of an organization and making this knowledge searchable so that all employees can benefit from it, no matter where they’re working.

Easy access to the knowledge that exists across the organization gives employees the resources they need to make meaningful daily progress. They are able to take institutional knowledge and learnings from their peers and apply it to their work, whether they are assisting customers, troubleshooting internal processes, making product decisions based on research, or anything in between. And greater access to knowledge translates to faster and more confident decision-making, fewer errors, and more successful outcomes overall.

Below are a few examples of ways that knowledge management can improve productivity:

  • Minimizing disruptions in the flow of work. On average, it takes knowledge workers 25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. When employees can find the information they need through a quick search, rather than stopping what they’re working on to search multiple repositories or track down a subject matter expert (SME), they experience fewer disruptions and get more done.
  • Minimizing repetitive requests to subject matter experts. SMEs often have to field the same questions from different employees, causing unnecessary disruptions. When SMEs can document the answer to a question once and share it with all employees who need that information, they get more time back to concentrate on meaningful work.
  • Getting answers to customer questions faster. For customer-facing employees, or employees who work with internal stakeholders, providing timely answers to customer questions is crucial. When employees can perform a keyword search and quickly surface an answer, they can help customers more efficiently and provide a more positive customer experience.

How Knowledge Managers Can Improve Knowledge Access and Productivity 

As a knowledge manager, you can play a key role in improving knowledge access, productivity, and the overall employee experience. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you build or refine your organization’s knowledge management strategy:

Start by making knowledge searchable.

There’s a reason why “Google” has become a verb: people are used to performing a quick online search to answer the questions that come up in their daily lives. Employees should be able to benefit from the same convenience in their work lives, which means that all company knowledge must be documented and made searchable within a centralized platform.

When evaluating knowledge management platforms, look for solutions that deep index all content—not just titles and tags. This will help employees find relevant content even when they don’t know the title or exact match keywords. It will also help employees discover information across different file types, including slide decks, videos, and audio recordings. 

When all company knowledge is searchable, employees spend less time digging through old email threads or navigating complicated mazes of shared folders and more time applying that knowledge to their work.

Account for the different ways people search.

While search should be at the core of your knowledge management strategy, it’s also important to consider the different ways people look for information. Think about the experience of online shopping: you might start by performing a keyword search but then narrow down your results using filters such as price point or color. Employees expect to be able to navigate your knowledge management platform in a similar way. They also expect their search results to match their intent, not just their exact keywords. For instance, if they are interested in content on “telecommuting,” they are likely interested in content that contains the term “remote work” as well.

Look for a knowledge management platform that supports synonym searching and the creation of customizable filters so that employees have multiple paths to get to the information they need. This will allow a wide range of platform users to work more productively without having to predict the exact keywords that different content creators used in their documentation.

Package knowledge in digestible formats.

Before employees read a lengthy article, watch a recorded training session, or parse through a detailed research report in a slide deck, they want to know the content contains the key information they are looking for. You can help them identify relevant content faster by providing some quick context clues with all contributions. 

Adding thumbnail images to all contributions provides a great visual shortcut for content consumers. The human brain can process images in just 13 milliseconds, meaning that seeing a thumbnail can help employees gauge what a piece of content is about faster than they could from just reading the document title. Thumbnails can also be used to visually group together related content (for example, all product updates could incorporate a thumbnail with the same color). 

Short descriptions or summaries at the top of a document can also help employees determine if it makes sense for them to keep reading. Because it can be time consuming for content contributors to add a summary to every piece of content they share, it’s worth looking for a knowledge management solution that can ingest text-based documents and automatically generate a description and summary.

Look at search trends to identify knowledge gaps.

Arming employees with a powerful search engine is just half of the equation for improving productivity: you also need to ensure that the information employees are searching for is documented and available to them when they need it. 

If your knowledge management platform provides built-in reporting, you can look at the most frequently used search terms to better understand what employees are looking for and whether there are existing resources that meet their needs. From there, you can build a list of new knowledge assets to create and collaborate with the appropriate subject matter experts to add them to the platform. 

Make Knowledge Accessible On Demand.

As the ways we work change and organizations increasingly shift towards remote, hybrid, or flexible work schedules, the role of the knowledge manager is becoming more important than ever. By establishing a knowledge management system that helps employees access knowledge on demand, no matter where and when they are working, you are setting them up to work more productively and make more meaningful daily progress. And that’s something that’s worth celebrating for both businesses and employees.

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Author Bio

Madeline Jacobson is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Bloomfire, a knowledge engagement software company based in Austin, TX. She edits and contributes to the Bloomfire Blog and frequently writes about knowledge management, employee experience, and customer experience.

 

 

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