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Communication and Collaboration

5 ways to encourage knowledge sharing in the workplace

Knowledge sharing is exchanging ideas and insights between individuals or groups within an organization to enhance learning, collaboration, and innovation. Learn how you can implement the power of knowledge sharing in your workplace.

9 minute read
knowledge sharing
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In the fast-paced world of business, creating a culture of knowledge sharing isn’t just a good idea—it’s essential for staying ahead of the curve.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Fortune 500 companies suffer a loss of at least $31.5 billion per year by failing to share knowledge. Encouraging knowledge sharing opens the doors to shared insights and expertise, driving creativity, efficiency, and growth. Think of it as the secret sauce that keeps organizations thriving and innovating. 

In this article, we learn what is knowledge sharing and how you can improve knowledge sharing in your workplace:

What is knowledge sharing?

Let’s first start off by saying that knowledge sharing is more than simple documentation and distribution of knowledge. Yet, 55% of the respondents in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey believed that knowledge sharing is solely about that. Only 36% considered knowledge sharing to be an action that drives value, and only 43% saw knowledge sharing as a key to developing new products.

Knowledge sharing is the process of exchanging ideas, insights, best practices, lessons learned, and expertise between individuals or groups within an organization. It involves tapping into the collective wisdom of individuals within an organization and making it accessible to all. 

The objective of knowledge sharing is to ensure that valuable knowledge evolves into a shared resource that drives innovation and problem-solving.

Why knowledge sharing matters

Inefficient knowledge sharing or even lack of sharing knowledge is often a bottleneck to productivity and people underestimate the impact on the organization’s bottom line. In fact, the average U.S. enterprise-size company could be losing $4.5 million in productivity due to knowledge loss! 

According to a survey by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), 43% of respondents said that employee productivity could be boosted by 30% or more if they were sharing knowledge more efficiently. When teams freely exchange ideas and insights, remarkable things happen. 

Take the example of Thurber Engineering Ltd., a consulting firm specializing in geotechnical, environmental, and construction materials. Thurber implemented a knowledge-sharing platform by ThoughtFarmer to address the communication hurdles posed by dispersed offices. 

Since the launch of Thurber’s knowledge-sharing platform, over 50% of employees have been actively using it. The intranet software provided the company with a knowledge hub, which allowed employees to seamlessly access vital information and improved the onboarding experience for new hires. This led to better centralization of knowledge, greater employee engagement, and streamlined communication.

intranet forum

Knowledge-sharing platforms, such as ThoughtFarmer, allow you to seamlessly and effectively share knowledge through forums and other tools.

Benefits of knowledge sharing

Sharing knowledge offers a multitude of benefits:

Enhanced problem-solving 

When knowledge is shared openly, teams can tap into a collective pool of insights and experiences to tackle challenges more effectively. 

Accelerated learning

Knowledge sharing accelerates the learning curve for new hires and existing employees alike. Organizations can accelerate skill development, empower employees, and nurture a culture of continuous learning and growth.

Improved decision-making

Decisions are made on a more comprehensive understanding of the situation when individuals have access to a shared pool of knowledge and insights. This leads to better outcomes and increased buy-in from all stakeholders.

Increased collaboration

Sharing knowledge breaks down silos and promotes cross-functional collaboration, which drives innovation and streamline processes.

Boosted employee engagement

Knowledge sharing fosters a sense of belonging and ownership, which fuels employee morale, satisfaction, and retention.

Better customer experience

Sharing customer insights, success stories, and best practices help departments align efforts to meet customer needs more effectively.

Increased competitive advantage

Organizations that embrace knowledge sharing are better positioned to anticipate market shifts, identify emerging trends, and capitalize on new opportunities.

Understanding barriers to knowledge sharing

In Deloitte’s survey, 82% of respondents expressed that their organization should do a better job of linking knowledge to action and 79% admitted that they must be more effective at creating knowledge to drive innovations and launch new products and services. 

Many people seem to understand the value of sharing knowledge, yet many companies still face these common barriers that can discourage knowledge sharing within the workplace:

Lack of trust

Trust forms the foundation of effective knowledge sharing. However, in many workplaces, trust may be lacking due to hierarchical structures, past experiences of criticism, or a competitive work culture.

Fear of criticism

Employees may hold back from sharing their thoughts or experiences for fear of being judged or ridiculed.

Siloed work environments

Information tends to get trapped in siloed departments, making it challenging to share knowledge across the organization.

Organizational culture

Employees may be less inclined to share their knowledge openly if an organization revolves around a culture that prioritizes competition or knowledge hoarding. 

Systems and processes

There also needs to be common practices and systems that support sharing regular updates and information or connecting with in-house subject matter experts. Having an intranet can facilitate this and make it easy to collaborate with others via open workspaces and shared documents.   

5 strategies to encourage knowledge sharing

Knowledge Management

Investing in the right technology solution can help streamline knowledge sharing processes.

Now that you’re aware of the common barriers to knowledge sharing (or perhaps reaffirmed your knowledge of these barriers), let’s cover 5 strategies to encourage knowledge sharing within your workplace:

1. Cultivate trust and safety

Creating trust among team members encourages everyone to feel more comfortable sharing their knowledge and ideas without fear of judgment. Leaders can promote trust by demonstrating openness, transparency, and integrity in their actions and communication. 

Encouraging constructive feedback and embracing failure as an opportunity for learning can also help create a culture of safety where employees feel empowered to take risks and share their insights.

2. Promote inclusive communication

Leaders should encourage open dialogue and active listening across all levels of the organization so that every voice is heard and valued. Implementing regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative workshops can provide opportunities for employees to exchange ideas, share best practices, and collaborate on projects. 

Leveraging digital communication tools, such as chat platforms, forums, surveys, and video conferencing can also facilitate real-time communication and collaboration among remote and distributed teams.

3. Recognize and reward contributions

Acknowledging and rewarding employees for their contributions to knowledge sharing initiatives can help incentivize participation. Leaders can implement recognition programs, peer-to-peer awards, or gamified systems to celebrate achievements and encourage continued engagement. Intranets that support shoutouts make it easy to give credit to peers for their contributions. 

4. Promote communities of practice

Creating communities of practice around specific areas of expertise or interest can foster knowledge exchange within organizations. This allows employees to share insights, ask questions, and learn from one another’s experiences, which can lead to the creation of valuable knowledge networks.

5. Invest in technology solutions

Deploying the right technology solutions such as a modern intranet platform can streamline knowledge sharing processes and make it easier for employees to access and contribute information. Investing in an intranet that facilitates collaboration and knowledge management allows employees to store, organize, and share knowledge assets, such as documents, presentations, and best practices.

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How to implement knowledge sharing initiatives

Picture this: a workplace buzzing with collaboration, innovation, and boundless growth. A pipe dream, you say? We think not! Here are 4 straightforward steps to improve knowledge sharing at your workplace:

1. Set clear goals

The first step in implementing knowledge sharing initiatives is setting clear and achievable goals. Identify the specific objectives you want to accomplish through knowledge sharing, whether it’s improving employee collaboration, accelerating innovation, or enhancing problem-solving capabilities.

2. Get systems in place

Whether it’s Slack, Google Docs, or an intranet, make sure you invest in the right technology that will support knowledge sharing across departments and individuals. 

3. Measure success

Once you’ve established your goals, it’s essential to develop metrics to measure the success of your knowledge sharing initiatives. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your objectives, such as engagement levels, knowledge sharing frequency, or the impact on organizational outcomes. Regularly track and analyze these metrics in your intranet analytics and conduct employee surveys to assess the effectiveness of your initiatives and identify areas for improvement.

intranet analytics

A good knowledge management platform can track relevant metrics that measure the success of your knowledge sharing initiatives.

4. Adapt strategies based on feedback

Feedback plays a crucial role in refining and optimizing knowledge sharing initiatives. Encourage open communication channels where employees can provide feedback and adapt your strategies accordingly. Whether it’s introducing new tools, adjusting communication methods, or refining training programs, continuous improvement based on feedback is essential for the long-term success of knowledge sharing initiatives.

Knowledge is power

Knowledge sharing isn’t just a buzzword; it’s an essential strategy to stay competitive and keep your organization moving forward. We aren’t exaggerating  when we say knowledge sharing is vital and powerful to any organization.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge sharing involves exchanging ideas, insights, best practices, and expertise among individuals or groups within an organization to enhance learning, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Knowledge sharing is essential for improving organizational performance, driving innovation, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Common obstacles to knowledge sharing include lack of trust, fear of criticism, siloed work environments, and organizational culture.
  • Encouraging knowledge sharing within a workplace involves cultivating trust, promoting inclusive communication, recognizing contributions, fostering communities of practice, and investing in technology solutions.
  • Implementing knowledge sharing initiatives requires careful planning, systems, clear goals, and a commitment to ongoing improvement.

We encourage organizations to embrace knowledge sharing as more than just a tool or process—it should be a fundamental aspect of your organizational DNA. Companies can cultivate a culture of learning, adaptability, and resilience by investing in knowledge management solution and position themselves for long-term success.

Speak to a ThoughtFarmer intranet expert about how our intranet software can improve knowledge sharing in your organization.