The average human adult brain can hold 2.5 million gigabytes of memory! But this knowledge isn’t meant to stay in our heads: we need to share ideas and knowledge with each other to create a better world (and an easier workplace) for all.
Knowledge sharing is an important concept for every company to understand. By sharing knowledge across your organization, you and your employees will enjoy greater communication, productivity, and organizational alignment.
In this article, you’ll learn about the details and the importance of knowledge sharing. You’ll also get several examples and ideas of how to put this concept into practice in your organization. (Your employees and your customers will thank you!)
What is knowledge sharing?
Knowledge sharing is exchanging information among people who need it and includes capturing, organizing, reusing, and transferring knowledge. Whether this exchange happens between colleagues, friends, or communities, the idea is that it’s mutually beneficial, with both parties getting something out of it.
Experts recognize a few different types of knowledge sharing. These include:
- Explicit knowledge: Explicit knowledge is easy to share, and can be learned by outsiders. (This might look like onboarding videos or an internal wiki.)
- Implicit knowledge: Implicit Knowledge is learned through life experience. For example, you want employees to use explicit knowledge as the ‘what’ and learn implicit knowledge as the ‘why’ something works.
- Tacit knowledge: Tacit knowledge cannot be recorded or stored. We learn tacit knowledge by experience, too – but unlike implicit knowledge, it’s hard to quickly and easily explain tacit knowledge. For example, how did you learn to speak your native language? It’s not exactly a quick explanation.
Other kinds of knowledge include declarative knowledge (static facts, such as the boiling point of water) and procedural knowledge (how-to, such as how to tie shoelaces). These different types of knowledge are shared through methods like conversation or written content.
Sharing knowledge in the workplace is important because it helps everyone succeed. When we collectively share what we know, everyone finds better ways of doing things. Knowledge sharing among the people in your company is especially helpful because building relevant knowledge together fosters productivity, communication, team spirit, and a bunch of other good things that you want your team to have.
Key benefits of having a knowledge-sharing culture
We understand what knowledge is, how it’s shared, and the basics of why it’s important. Ready to drill down into the nitty-gritty of how knowledge sharing can really benefit your company? Here are a few key benefits to know.
Increases workplace productivity
When your company focuses on knowledge sharing, all employees will become more productive. Knowledge sharing boosts productivity because it allows employees to learn from each other’s mistakes and experiences, saving them time as they don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. It also means that team members won’t duplicate work that their team members have already done, which increases efficiency.
Another way knowledge sharing helps with productivity is that it improves decision-making. The more information your teams can access, the better equipped they’ll be to make good decisions. Knowledge sharing also encourages collaboration and teamwork, which can improve productivity, too.
Boosts communication and collaboration
Knowledge sharing helps foster and improve both communication and collaboration. Sharing knowledge helps with clarity, ensuring that everyone understands what’s going on. It also builds trust as employees realize their teammates are open and willing to collaborate and share what they know.
The better your team communicates, the more productive they’ll be; research finds that 71% of productive employees feel well-connected to their colleagues. Employees who feel more included in workplace communication are nearly 5x more likely to demonstrate increased productivity. And trust is a big part of communication, too: when you trust someone (such as your coworker), you’re much more likely to communicate with them freely and well.
Bottom line? Knowledge sharing increases trust, which leads to better communication, which leads to higher productivity. In other words, exactly what every business wants.
Helps reduce employee churn
Employee churn, which refers to the combined numbers of your attrition and turnover rates, is a quickly growing issue. 3.9 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs in January 2023 alone. This hurts your business as you lose time, productivity, and monetary resources while finding, hiring, and training replacements.
Believe it or not, knowledge sharing can actually help reduce your employee churn rate. Because knowledge sharing improves trust, productivity, and communication, employees are more likely to be highly engaged at work. And engaged employees are committed to their work, satisfied with their job, and less likely to leave.
If and when you do inevitably have to make a new hire, use your newfound knowledge-sharing strategies to smooth out the onboarding process, quickly bringing the newcomer up to speed on company policies and culture.
Provides organizational alignment
Organizational alignment is a phrase that refers to your entire business working in unity toward common goals. When you achieve organizational alignment, every level of your company has a shared purpose. You are all chasing a single-minded vision.
When your knowledge-sharing efforts are oriented alongside your overarching business strategy, they can help you reach alignment. Make a point to distribute knowledge that supports your business goals and values. By doing so, you will get all team members on board, ready to help lift the load to reach these broader goals.
Ways to improve knowledge sharing in your company
Sometimes, knowledge sharing happens automatically. But to truly create a culture of knowledge sharing, you’ll need to be a little more intentional. Use the following strategies to encourage knowledge sharing in your organization.
Put the right tools in place
Knowledge sharing is easier when you have a knowledge management tool to help. Knowledge management software (KMS) provides organizations with a single central location to create, manage, and distribute information among the company. This is beneficial because it expands access to information and expertise, which improves productivity, innovation, and growth.
Workvivo is a great example of a knowledge management software. Workvivo is an employee experience app and social intranet (an internal company network designed for employees to communicate and collaborate) with features that make sharing knowledge easy. Personalized activity feeds, powerful workplace insights, supercharged third-party integrations, and more – consider Workvivo your single source of truth for all company information.
Request a demo to learn more about how Workvivo can help your teams access the knowledge they need to perform their best!
Schedule and encourage knowledge-sharing activities
Set the tone for a knowledge-sharing company culture by scheduling company-wide activities intended to share information. Once employees experience these activities and realize the many benefits, ideally, they’ll take the initiative to continue sharing knowledge on their own.
Examples of formal knowledge-sharing activities include:
- Peer learning groups
- Loom videos
- Company wikis
- Courses or webinars
- Mentorships or buddy programs
- Employee resource groups
In the next section, you’ll find more details on how to carry out a few of these ideas.
Have subject matter experts share their knowledge
A subject matter expert (SME) is someone who has a deep level of knowledge and experience in their field. SMEs are often licensed or certified in a specific area. Generally, they’ve been working in their industry for several years to gain all of the knowledge they have. A subject matter expert is a natural choice to teach others what they know.
You can include SMEs in your knowledge sharing by first identifying subject matter experts within your company. Invite them to share what they know during a webinar, a Lunch-and-Learn, or via a mentoring relationship. It’s okay to utilize SMEs from outside your company, too. But having internal speakers may increase engagement, communication, and trust even further as your employees already know the SME.
Create a knowledge management process
A knowledge management process is how you manage, store, and share knowledge. Defining this process is important because it helps you be more efficient and effective with your knowledge-sharing system. While this process can be unique to each business, there are generally a few common steps you’ll want to follow:
- Collecting (including discovering, creating, and capturing)
- Analyzing or assessing
- Decision making
- Reusing and applying
This sequence covers everything you need to capture and retain knowledge for company use.
(P.S. A knowledge management system like Workvivo can help you create a unique, effective long-term process of managing your organization’s information!)
Put the principles of knowledge sharing into practice with one of these ideas.
A Lunch-and-Learn is a common knowledge-sharing program where a company hosts an optional lunch, providing a training session or other presentation for employees to attend while eating a catered meal. Lunch-and-Learns help foster collaboration, team development, communication – plus all of the benefits mentioned above.
Lunch-and-Learns happen during the workday, but since they take place during your employees’ lunch hour, they don’t disrupt the workflow. You can use a Lunch-and-Learn to share product training, company updates, or a topical presentation on leadership or time management. Choose a speaker from within your company and leave a little extra time at the end for employees to discuss what they’ve heard.
A Loom video for training
You’re probably familiar with Loom, a free platform that lets you make a video recording of your computer screen and share that recording with just a few clicks. But have you ever realized that when you make and share a Loom video, this is a form of knowledge sharing?
Loom is a great tool to use for any type of training or onboarding. Record your video with voiceover narration. For example, you might walk through setting up an internal email account, using your on-screen actions and voice to explain the process. Then edit the video if needed, and share it with recipients using email or social media.
Mentorships within your company are another excellent way to foster knowledge sharing. An internal mentoring program can help you accomplish two main goals: sharing internal knowledge and creating a culture that prioritizes both knowledge sharing and mentoring.
To set up this kind of program, identify mentors (more experienced employees who have been with your company for longer) and mentees (maybe new hires or younger workers). Then create a structure for the program, specifying things like how often the pairs should meet and how long the mentorship will last. A mentoring relationship is a perfect vehicle for knowledge transfer in real-time, giving younger or less experienced employees easy access to the valuable knowledge they need.
Create a knowledge-sharing culture with Workvivo
The benefits of effective knowledge sharing can’t be understated. By intentionally scheduling information sharing in the workplace (including Lunch and Learns, webinars, or a mentorship program), your company will see greater employee engagement, a stronger organizational culture, and a work environment conducive to getting good work done.
Start reaping the benefits of knowledge sharing by investing in a tool designed to help. As an employee experience platform and corporate intranet, Workvivo boasts knowledge management features that will help your company increase its collective knowledge – leading to greater communication, better organizational alignment, and higher productivity, which will all benefit your company’s bottom line and hone your competitive advantage.
Streamline and solidify your knowledge-sharing system with Workvivo – request your demo today.