More information is available to employees than ever before, but do they know where to find it?
Perhaps your remote employees are missing out on important content shared in meetings. Employee onboarding takes several days, resulting in knowledge gaps weeks later and teamwork grinding to a screeching halt.
If these scenarios sound familiar, you are not alone. McKinsey research shows that on average, employees spend nearly 20% of their time searching for internal documentation. Not surprisingly, employee engagement and productivity are taking a hit.
Fortunately, there is a remarkably simple solution. An effective internal knowledge base can reduce the time employees spend searching for information by up to 35% with instant access to important, easy-to-find information — anytime, anywhere.
Let’s look at how to create a knowledge base: What it is, why your organization should have one, what it should include, how to get started, and how it fosters continual learning, collaboration, and productivity.
What is a knowledge base?
The first step is to get a better understanding of what a “knowledge base” actually means or looks like. Essentially, it is a technology platform that focuses on the capture, storage, and organization of a company’s internal information. This could be contact information, policies and procedures, creative assets, training documents, and much more.
Another key of knowledge bases is being a self-serve repository for this information that employees can access by themselves, whenever they need to. It accomplishes this using a centralized, secure, and easily-accessible platform across departments, geographical areas, and projects. It unlocks valuable company expertise and information currently stored in filing cabinets, hard drives, and employees’ brains, which is where the benefits of a knowledge base really begin.
Internal knowledge base benefits
To be effective, a knowledge base must be accessible, secure, easy to navigate, and up-to-date. Consider the following benefits of creating a robust internal knowledge base:
Connect remote employees
70% of professionals work from home at least once a week, and this has only skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. According to a 2019 report by Igloo, 56% of those surveyed said they have missed out on important information as a result of working away from the office. Whether employees are sitting next to each other or hundreds of miles apart, a knowledge base enables fast, easy access to necessary information.
Improve collaboration & productivity
A recent Gallup survey shows that employees who feel engaged with their work stay at the company longer and produce higher-quality work. A modern knowledge base with collaboration features allows employees to make comments, “like” documents or posts, ask questions, tag others, and reclaim up to a full workday of time for each employee every week.
Accelerate learning & decision-making
When employees can find relevant information — from processes and best practices to customer interactions, news, and employee insights — it speeds up the learning process and empowers employees to make better decisions.
Reduce employee onboarding costs
According to a survey by Training Mag, it costs an average of $1,000 to onboard a new employee. Introducing employees to your company’s policies and procedures is simple if all documentation exists within your company’s internal knowledge base. An intranet onboarding center addresses intensive training needs and accelerates time to productivity.
Prevent knowledge loss
When employees leave, years of knowledge and experience walk out the door with them, which costs your company significant time and money. A knowledge base turns employee insight into a valuable, transferable asset that can be retained and shared over the lifetime of the company.
Building a knowledge base
The benefits are clear, now how do you get started? Read on for proven tips and strategies to ensure you build a knowledge base that benefits everyone and grows with your company.
1. Determine what information to include
From company sick leave policy to brand guidelines and best practices for answering a customer inquiry, everything relevant to your employees should be included in your knowledge base. For instance, a governance center keeps employees informed of important, business-critical communications by centralizing policies and procedures.
2. Decide who owns it
Is it HR or IT? Whoever takes the leadership role will manage the content, maintain the community, manage the logistics, and ensure problems are addressed as they arise. This will prevent responsibilities from being pushed off to one or the other and ensures that someone is always accountable.
3. Identify your content experts
A robust, reliable knowledge base relies on generating a constant stream of new and trustworthy information. Identify the employees that possess the knowledge required and use them as your starting point for building content.
4. Agree on the structure & organization of the content
Organization is vital to locating the knowledge you have stored. Your knowledge base documentation should be logically organized, fast and easy to use, and allow for user feedback and continued contributions.
5. Develop a consistent voice
Ensure the information stored in your knowledge base has a recognizable “voice” that reflects your brand. Verify that contributors use the same style, content type, and tone. A brand knowledge base helps everyone stay on-brand by putting all your creative guidelines and resources into a single digital hub. Adding images and other media can also help to draw people to your content.
6. Use technology
Technology plays an important role in standardizing, storing, and organizing the knowledge base. Many organizations opt for an intranet platform designed specifically for this purpose because digital information management is a must-have for companies nowadays.
7. Make it searchable
In the digital workplace, employees need to find what they need, fast. This means that some sort of search functionality is required to avoid scrolling and searching through threads and documents to find a single piece of information. Include filters, robust search features, and tag articles to make looking for content easy.
8. Just get started
If you feel that it is time to put your company guidelines, documentation, and processes all in one place, you are ready to build a knowledge base. Start with the basics such as choosing topics, contributors, style, and technology platform, then get writing. You will have a functioning and effective knowledge base in no time, and one that you can build and improve as you grow. No matter how much content you add, a modern knowledge base remains navigable, reliable, and accessible.
Armed with an effective plan for creating and building a knowledge base on a shared platform, your company can remove information silos, eliminate productivity roadblocks, improve collaboration, and enhance decision-making. When employees are empowered to do their jobs faster and more efficiently, it’s good for your bottom line.
Ready to build your knowledge base?
One of your company’s most valuable assets is its knowledge, and in today’s competitive marketplace, you can’t afford to lose that. With Igloo’s knowledge management solutions, you can build a knowledge base that not only houses your content, but captures new knowledge and ideas as they develop as well.