Don’t Let Your Employees’ Knowledge Go on Vacation

“Thank you for your email – I am currently out of the office and will respond upon my return.” This familiar message is popping up in our inboxes more frequently. It’s summertime and most people are busy planning vacations to the beach, the mountains, or other exciting destinations. However, business doesn’t stop just because someone is out of the office. Other employees are expected to immediately fill critical voids within the company, but sometimes lack the expertise required to maintain momentum or the product knowledge necessary to answer questions.

Knowledge loss is a common challenge many organizations face today. Most companies do not have a strategy for the management and transfer of knowledge. When people leave a company – even temporarily – they take technology, clients, and product expertise with them. As a result, organizations face the detrimental loss of experience and knowledge. Without a culture of knowledge sharing, organizations experience a decline in productivity and efficiency associated with knowledge loss.

Knowledge sharing helps avoid these problems. Rather than leaving knowledge workers feeling directionless, an organization that has actively engaged in knowledge sharing is several steps ahead of the game. Here are three ways to prepare your organization for transition periods – whether it’s an employee leaving the company, a new hire adjusting to his or her new role, or a vital team member out of the office.

1.  Establish a culture of sharing. Don’t wait until an employee leaves the company to document his or her knowledge. Establish a culture of sharing that encourages employees to document knowledge on a daily basis – and reward them for doing so. This allows organizations to easily adapt to transition periods through effective and sustainable knowledge transfer. Shared knowledge ensures productivity is not compromised, even if someone is unavailable to answer questions at the moment of need.

2.  Reinforce the importance of knowledge sharing. One of the most frustrating things to an employee is being in a situation where a lack of information is a hurdle. Companies thrive when performance is valued, and one of the keys to building that value is to make sure employees are put in a position to succeed. Sharing knowledge throughout an organization means fewer opportunities to blame on a lack of information or learning resources and a greater opportunity to reward – and retain – the high performers.

To avoid employee frustration and ensure productivity doesn’t decline due to a knowledge worker’s absence, leadership should clearly communicate and reinforce the benefits of knowledge sharing. Help employees understand the connection between shared knowledge and their success, as well as how it benefits the organization as a whole.

3.  Implement a strong knowledge management solution. Don’t just talk about the importance of knowledge sharing – give employees the tools they need to document, access, and share knowledge. A knowledge base or online community provides employees with one centralized place to document knowledge, ask questions, find answers, share new ideas, and remain productive. Aligning the right tool with the internal culture of knowledge sharing can enable a company, and its employees, to collectively reap the benefits of knowledge management.

An effective knowledge management strategy delivers numerous benefits to any company. When employees proactively document their responsibilities and knowledge, organizations can avoid the panic that often occurs when an employee leaves the company for any amount of time. Instead of scrambling to replicate skills and expertise, managers can prepare their workforce to remain productive, innovative, and competitive. Incorporating solutions like AnswerHub into a knowledge transfer strategy can also produce business benefits such as increased agility, productivity, and growth.

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