In their 2021 Employee Experience Playbook, Forrester Research identified several common characteristics of companies with great EX, including:
-Giving employees easy access to the tools they need to improve and do their best work.
-Increasing access to organization-level resources.
These characteristics both tie into a daily part of the employee experience: employees must be able to find the information they need to make decisions and complete tasks, and they must be able to find it in a timely, efficient manner.
Timely and efficient are the operative words here. Any time an employee has to significantly disrupt what they are working on to find information, they get out of the flow of their work and lose momentum. Research shows that after an interruption, it takes workers close to 25 minutes on average to get back on task.
When employees can’t easily find what they are looking for, they aren’t just losing momentum on their work. They also have to dedicate time and energy to tracking down the appropriate resources, potentially looping in co-workers to assist in the search. No one wants to spend hours of their day looking for the information they need to complete their work, attempting to navigate a maze of Google Drive folders or hunt down the right subject matter experts across different departments. It’s unproductive, frustrating, and can have a significantly negative impact on the overall employee experience.
On the other hand, when employees can quickly find the information they need, in the flow of their work, they free up more time to focus on impactful activities and experience greater job satisfaction. This can also translate to a better customer experience, especially when it comes to frontline employees who must access knowledge to assist customers. Even employees who don’t directly interact with customers can positively impact the employee experience when they have their organization’s collective knowledge at their fingertips. Employees can apply this knowledge to product and service innovations, operational improvements, marketing activities, and more.
As a department or team leader, investing in a knowledge engagement initiative can help you connect team members to knowledge the moment they need it. Below are several best practices to keep in mind as you embark on this initiative.
Want to learn more about how a knowledge management platform can improve knowledge engagement and accessibility? Get our “Enterprise Guide to Finding Knowledge Engagement Solution.”
Make 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.
When evaluating knowledge management platforms, it’s important to 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. No matter how knowledge has been preserved, employees should be able to tap into it through an intuitive search.
Allow for Different Paths for Information Discovery
While many people like to start looking for information through a keyword search, it’s worth keeping in mind that team members may follow different paths to discover content. Think about the experience of online shopping: you might start with a keyword search, then apply various filters to narrow down your search results. Employees should be able to do the same in your knowledge management platform.
It’s also important to remember that even within a keyword search, different employees may use different terminology. For example, one employee might use the term “remote work,” another might use “WFH,” and another might use “telecommuting” when searching for articles on future of work trends. Your knowledge management platform should be able to handle synonym searches so that even when employees search using a term that doesn’t appear in a piece of content, they are still discovering the information that’s relevant to them.
Embed Knowledge Access Across Your Tech Stack
Considering that a single disruption can derail employees for close to 25 minutes, it’s essential to enable employees to find knowledge in the flow of work whenever possible. A knowledge management platform that integrates with the tools your team members use every day—such as your chat platform or CRM—will allow employees to pull your centralized company knowledge into the platform they already have open, rather than toggling to a new tab or screen.
This might seem like a small detail to consider when choosing a knowledge management platform, but the time saved when you minimize disruptions can add up. When you eliminate friction by allowing employees to search and retrieve information within the platform they are already using, you also increase the likelihood that employees will actually tap into company knowledge and apply it to their work.
Provide Easily Digestible Context Up Front
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 your team members identify relevant content faster by providing some quick context clues with all contributions. (If you’re working with other content contributors, set guidelines to ensure they are adding the appropriate context as well.)
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 content consumers determine if it makes sense for them to keep reading. Because it can be time consuming for 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: you also need to ensure that the information employees are searching for is documented and available to them. 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.