Why Having a Team Knowledge Base Is Important for Boosting New Hire Productivity
New hires are the lifeblood of any organization, but getting them up to speed quickly and efficiently can be a challenge.
But have you ever felt frustrated by the time and resources it takes to get new employees up to speed?
Do you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again? Or noticing that new hires are struggling to find the information they need to do their jobs?
If so, you're not alone.
Knowledge silos can create information gaps, leaving new hires struggling to find the information they need to do their jobs.
The result? Longer ramp-up times, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates.
But what if there was a way to break down those knowledge silos and provide new hires with a centralized repository of information they can access quickly and easily?
That's where a team knowledge base comes in.
By creating a comprehensive knowledge base, you can ensure new hires have access to the information they need to be productive from day one. And by reducing the time and effort new hires need to spend searching for information, you can help them ramp up more quickly and increase their productivity.
- How quick access to knowledge enables productivity.
- Must have elements for a user-friendly knowledge base.
- Tips for setting up and maintaining a knowledge base.
- How onboarding software can help make the most of your knowledge base.
💽 What is a team knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a centralized repository of information that stores, organizes, and manages essential information related to a specific topic, product, or organization.
Its primary purpose is to provide users with easy access to relevant and accurate information, enabling them to:
- Find answers to their questions.
- Solve problems.
- Gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
A well-built knowledge base would contain various types of content:
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs);
- step-by-step guides;
- best practice documents;
- troubleshooting manuals;
Having a go-to place for information might make the work easier and quicker, but badly organized information wastes everyone's time searching for things.
So you don't just need a place to dump information.
Instead, you need a place to store information in a user-friendly and reliable way.
Team knowledge base example: Airbnb
Airbnb offers a great example of a knowledge base.
They created a "Knowledge Repo" to "empower all employees to make data-informed decisions, give everybody the ability to use experiments to correctly measure the impact of their decisions, and turn insights on user preferences into data products that improve the experience of using Airbnb." AirbnbEng.
Their knowledge base is founded on five core pillars:
- Reproducibility (each project's outcome can be consistently reproduced without discrepancies);
- Quality (ensured by reviewing before publishing);
- Consumability (focus on clarity of content and unified style);
- Discoverability (focus on user experience);
- Learning (enabling the reader to learn from others' work).
🧠 How is knowledge connected to productivity?
Productivity is a measure of employee performance that refers to the output an employee can generate within a specific timeframe. Productivity measures how efficiently and effectively employees can complete tasks, deliver projects, or produce goods and services.
The simple way to think about productivity is as a ratio of outputs over inputs. The higher the output compared to the input, the higher the productivity is.
Knowledge is essential to productivity because it enables employees to:
- Work more efficiently and effectively.
- Identify problems.
- Generate new ideas.
Businesses that invest in employee knowledge development may be better equipped to compete in their industry. When employees have the knowledge and skills required to stay ahead of competitors, they can help the business maintain a competitive edge, leading to increased productivity and growth.
This is where a knowledge base (KB) comes in.
🏆 7 Benefits of an internal knowledge base for new hires
1. Fast access to information
A team knowledge base should be where new employees can find all they need to know about a specific issue in seconds or minutes.
It does away with calling their colleagues to ask questions or emailing them and then waiting for the reply.
2. Access to the know-how of experienced colleagues
Newly hired employees may have many questions but may be uncomfortable asking them. The result? Long new hire time to productivity, which translates into monetary losses.
On the other end are experienced employees who know a lot, but that knowledge only helps them. If they transfer elsewhere or leave the company, it goes together with them.
A team knowledge base ensures that knowledge remains even when an essential employee leaves.
Plus, it helps automate business communication within the company.
3. Increased employee engagement
Employees who feel engaged with their work stay at one company longer and produce higher quality work than their uninterested peers.
According to organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler, there are four elements for building a high-involvement work system:
- Power: People enjoy the ability to make decisions that are important to their work and the quality of their working lives.
- Information: Data about the organization's revenues, costs, profitability, outputs, and customer feedback, enabling employees to make effective decisions.
- Knowledge: Offering the opportunity to build upon existing skills and learn new skills through a commitment to training and development.
- Rewards: Rewarding employees for efforts they put in to enhance organizational performance.
These four elements will produce high involvement: employees who care more about their work and put more effort into helping their business succeed.
4. Consistency: All employees have the same knowledge about your product/service
Consistency is essential for the success of a business. So when different departments or teams are operating in silos and relying on multiple (inconsistent) sources of information, it shows on the customers' end.
The simplest example: the sales rep during a sale said the product could do XYZ because they misunderstood the latest product release.
When it came to the actual usage, the customer failed to make it work. So they turn to customer service, but the agent says XYZ does not exist. They also approach technical support next — and hear that the feature does exist. Still, it's part of a different package with different technical requirements.
You could have easily avoided this disjointed, inconsistent experience if an up-to-date product-focused knowledge base had been available for all departments.
5. Better onboarding and training
Onboarding can make or break new employees' experience and influence whether that person stays with the company.
A well-planned process and a knowledge base can simplify and streamline the onboarding experience.
Here are some elements to include in your team knowledge base elements to help your employee onboarding process:
- the security protocols of your company;
- an introduction to the structure and responsibilities of different departments within the organization;
- an introduction to job leveling and career paths in your company;
- an overview of your feedback culture and performance management system.
6. Streamlined processes that lead to time savings and increase employee efficiency
45% of employees spend too much time searching for relevant, up-to-date information. And 39% spend too much time searching for the right people to help solve a business problem.
By centralizing resources like how-to guides, best practice documents, and troubleshooting techniques, new team members will spend less time looking for answers and more time doing their job.
7. Empowered remote employees
Even before COVID-19, remote work was becoming a trend.
Among the challenges that come with it, communication and collaboration take up 20%, according to Buffer's State of Remote Work report.
Remote environments make the need for knowledge to be shared obvious, with every department contributing and collaborating in the same place.
When teams have their knowledge silos, they fall victim to "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome for anyone outside those teams.
Imagine a remote team scattered across continents and time zones. Can you afford to have an employee in Australia stay locked until they get the answer from someone in Canada?
A good team knowledge base helps to solve such a situation.
🕵️♀️ Must-have features for your internal knowledge base
There are a few key features that are important for a team knowledge base:
- Fast-loading of information within seconds after the search started.
- Powerful search engine capable of working with misspelled words, two-word search terms instead of three, vague phrases for search terms, and more.
- Tags, keywords, and other labeling methods working in parallel with the primary structure method.
- Multimedia and multi-format libraries, such as texts, images, and videos.
- Versions, rollback, and other editing features to create, update or restore information to prevent loss of content.
- Employee learning center: a single stop for educational videos, training courses, and workshops, as well as updates on new opportunities and changes to existing materials.
💡 7 Practical tips for creating and maintaining a successful knowledge base
- Organize the content: Structure your knowledge base to make it easy for users to find and access the information they need. Use categories, subcategories, and tags to group related content.
- Keep it up to date: Regularly review and update the content to ensure it remains accurate and relevant.
Tip: Assign a team member or a group responsible for maintaining and updating the knowledge base.
- Use clear and concise language: Write your content using simple, easy-to-understand language. Avoid jargon and technical terms that may confuse users. Use visuals, such as images and diagrams, to help illustrate complex concepts.
- Collect feedback: Encourage users to provide feedback on the content and usability of your knowledge base.
Tip: Use employee input to identify areas for improvement and make necessary updates.
- Monitor usage: Track user behavior and analytics to understand how employees use your knowledge base. Identify popular content, search trends, and potential gaps in information.
- Promote your knowledge base: Ensure your employees know the knowledge base and its benefits. Incorporate it into training materials and promote it through internal communication channels.
- Integrate with other tools: Connect your knowledge base with different tools and platforms your organization uses, such as project management, customer support, or communication tools.
🚀 Drive new hire productivity with Zavvy
Using onboarding software can help your new hire access your thriving knowledge base.
Here is how Zavvy will help:
- Centralize information: Store and organize all relevant documents, guides, and resources in a centralized location, making it easy for new hires to access any necessary information.
- Automate content delivery: Automatically deliver relevant content to new hires based on their role, department, or learning path. You can customize if all content should be unlocked on day one, or opt for step delivery, each step unlocking at a specific stage of the onboarding journey. The second approach ensures that employees receive the right information at the right time during their onboarding process.
- Track progress: Track new hires' progress through the knowledge base content, helping you identify gaps in understanding or areas where they may need additional support.
- Customize learning paths: Can create customized learning paths tailored to each new hire's specific needs and goals.
- Encourage collaboration: Zavvy includes features that promote collaboration and knowledge sharing among team members, helping to foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement. One of our clients uses Zavvy to organize research days, where new hires get automatically paired and assigned to topics they have to research and cooperate on. A great way of building work relationships, getting acquainted with domain knowledge, and sharing knowledge with peers.
Discover the benefits of Zavvy’s onboarding and enablement software in a free demo.