11 Benefits of Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace

Your mom or your dad told you to share your toys with friends and siblings.  Your teachers asked you to show a fellow student how to solve a problem.  As a parent, you showed a child how to throw a baseball, taught them to ride a bike, or even how to cut up their own food.  And today, when we write blog posts, we are sharing our knowledge.  And of course, we are not too hesitant to publish our most personal secrets on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

But, why do we forget the lessons of sharing knowledge and helping our colleagues once we get inside the four walls of our work place?   And what effect is it having on businesses?

Information overload causes an imperative to sharing.

There is so much information in the world today, and it is coming at us so rapidly, it is impossible for any single person to have all the tools needed to effectively do their job.  Martin Hilbert, a researcher at USC, figured out that during the course of the year, every person receives an amount of information equivalent to reading 174 newspapers every single day.  And that was in 2007.  Imagine what it is today!  That alone, should make organizations afraid.  Simply put, the amount of information people are dealing with is causing them to be overloaded and unable to process everything coherently.

With this explosion of information, you would be forgiven if you did not believe that less than 20% of companies believe they have an effective Knowledge Management system.  Why so few?  One reason is that companies think collaboration and knowledge sharing is really a waste of time.  They think it is too costly to document, collate, organize, and input all of this information.  As well, companies adopting knowledge-sharing procedures feel too much time will be spent just commiserating and discussing without people working.  However, these business fail to understand the benefits of organizing and synthesizing this information.

An Ivey Business Journal study showed that business performance improves simply by people doing things differently as a result of knowledge sharing.  But there are many more benefits.

Below is a list of 11 Benefits of Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace

  1. When knowledge is shared, the decision-making process improves.  You create a culture of learning that allows the business to adjust quickly if the business model needs to shift.
  2. When knowledge is shared, instead of speculating on what may or may not occur, the people with specific knowledge can give real answers to various strategies.
  3. When knowledge is shared, we know what is missing.  We are not worried that an employee “holds the key to the kingdom”.
  4. When knowledge is shared, businesses are able to retain this information even when an employee leaves.  With unemployment so low, employees are jumping to new positions much more rapidly.  This means businesses risk losing know-how and intellectual capital.
  5. When knowledge is shared, instead of trying to figure out the solution by trial and error, we can quickly identify the resolution.  For instance, how many times have you run multiple Google searches to find your answer?  If that information is at your fingertips in a knowledge management system, you can save 20 minutes of Googling (and the additional 15 minutes to get your coffee in celebration of finding your answer, and then back into your stream of work).
  6. When knowledge is shared, and as a corollary to #5, there is the huge side effect of boosting employee morale.  No employee wants to feel frustrated or stuck in a problem.  The more information that is shared, the greater the ability to accomplish their goals and feeling they are contributing to the success of organization.
  7. When knowledge is shared, employees don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” each time a problem arises.
  8. When knowledge is shared, you develop a competitive advantage by creating communities, friendships, and ongoing skill development with your employees, within an organization.  These micro-interactions establish friendships, camaraderie, and form the basis for effective businesses.
  9. When knowledge is shared, intellectual property is created that cannot be pirated or duplicated by competitors.  It is a valuable asset that leads to innovation and revenue growth.
  10. Where information is shared across departments, for instance, among the marketing, sales, and production teams, businesses find they create better products, better customer experiences, and are able to resolve problems faster, because of this feedback loop.
  11. When knowledge is shared, employees’ efficiency and commitment to the work more than makes up for the time spent collaborating and sharing knowledge.

If you are not still sure about the benefits of sharing information, just think of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  If you recall, there was significant blame-game going around because agencies did not share information with one another.  They all existed in their own silos, protective of the information they had.  All of this may have been the result of certain laws that were in place.  But don’t doubt that it also had to do with the culture of the agencies themselves and government.  This, itself, may be the best reason and lesson to think about when deciding whether to instill a knowledge sharing initiative.

Be sure to check out these related blog posts on How to Create a System to Encourage Information Sharing in Businesses and 5 Ways Companies can Improve their Knowledge Management

Share you knowledge with the businesses in southeast Michigan by taking the 2019 Confidence & Clarity Survey today.