Every organization is full of crucial internal information for employees. Without proper indexing of content or an advanced search tool though, critical documents can become lost and unread. Having a well organized knowledge base or company wiki within your intranet is an excellent way to surface content and guide employees to information that helps them perform their work without interruption.
Does your organization make it easy for staff to access internal documents and procedures? If your co-workers routinely complain they don’t have fast access to HR policies or training documents, for example, you may benefit from an internal knowledge base. A knowledge base is a managed space within your digital workplace that stores the information your company needs to help it run smoothly.
There are many ways to construct a knowledge base, but intranet software is arguably the most effective. Not only are your private data and confidential policies kept safe on a secure network, but an enterprise search tool that surfaces relevant content from right across your organization enhances its findability. With your content collected, published, organized, and findable, it can be easily accessed by employees. Everything they need to know is kept in one specific location, saving time and requiring minimal effort.
What is an internal knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a collection of content that is the lifeblood of your organization. It’s the ABC of everything your employees need to know, and can contain a variety of different documents to support the needs of the business. For example:
- An employee handbook – Any relevant office addresses and contact details, employee benefits packages, organizational structure, and updated contact details of colleagues
- Values and culture – What makes your organization stand out from competitors, and the important values you want employees to embody
- Onboarding – Documents that showcase your company to new employees, explaining how things work, and what to expect in their first few weeks
- Customer service details – Anything that internal teams need to support customers on a daily basis
- Finance – Details on relevant stocks and shares, payroll, tax information, and company bonuses
- Calendars – A list of relevant dates that could be globally appropriate depending on office locations
- Marketing information – What are your current marketing activities, and how employees can support the external promotion of the company
- And much more!
As a basic rule, an internal knowledge base or company wiki should include anything internally documented for which workers may have ongoing use.
The information stored in your knowledge base is anything pertinent to your employees and their daily work life. Precisely what you put there depends on the needs and wants of your employees, and also on your internal cultural values.
For global enterprises with dispersed workforces, there is often a need for regional content in multiple languages: employee benefits packages, vacation schedules, detailed company values, and much more can be kept on the intranet for employees to access at any time. And it can get even more granular than that.
For maximum efficiency, it’s possible to split the knowledge base up into departments, so each team can access the information that is relevant to them. For example, your sales team can access the same intranet as every other employee, but their experience will be customized to their needs, effectively creating a sales portal that also functions as a holistic company-wide intranet. After all, what is helpful for a Sales team member is not always applicable for someone in Engineering.
Knowledge is power
Now you know what a knowledge base is, should you spend time creating one? As successful organizations know, there are some long-standing company benefits of centralizing content and making information readily available to employees. Here are the top 5 reasons to use an intranet knowledge base:
1) A knowledge base can improve productivity
McKinsey found that having relevant information on hand can increase employee efficiency by 30%-35%. Providing quick access to all the information your employees require is guaranteed to boost productivity. Rather than asking a manager, waiting for a response, or seeking information from HR or another employee, they can find the answer themselves via the knowledge base. This also frees up time-crunched HR and IT professionals who spend time answering the same queries.
It also helps for tasks where your employees have not memorized the pertinent information; common for processes that are not a daily occurrence within their roles. It can be quite a headache and unnecessarily time-consuming for employees to dig through old emails or chats, looking for random documents to try and find the answer to set processes within an organization. And it may mean they have to interrupt a colleague to find the answers they are looking for .
Storing the correct information in a shared space means that everyone understands procedures, values, and what is always expected of them. And it can also help unlock some of the hidden knowledge within an organization, particularly useful when an employee leaves, as typically, they would take all the information with them. If stored within a knowledge base, that information stays within the business and isn’t lost. If you can manage intranet pages in a centralized way then you can also transfer ownership of intranet content pages easily from a leaving colleague to the next owner.
2) Intranet pages encourage quality and consistency of content
When everything is stored via one knowledge base, content quality can be easily managed and subject to regular updates and quality control. Using a CMS intranet editor with templates, for example, allows communicators and intranet manager to easily set standards by which all content needs to adhere. Through simple training (or easily accessible documentation), content authors with the relevant permissions can create and publish high quality content that is in line with company expectations rather than creating their own standards and veering away from internal branding or tone of voice.
3) A company wiki can increase collaboration and unite a dispersed workforce
Internal communicators know that collaboration between co-workers is vital for a cohesive and thriving workplace culture. An organized knowledge base means everyone has access to the same bulk of information, which means that they get in touch with their colleagues for collaboration purposes and not for questions that could be easily answered elsewhere. This simplifies any internal communication needs as there is a baseline of content already being utilized on a daily basis by those who need it.
And, if employees do need someone with specific information or certain skills, using an intranet with a searchable people directory, alongside a well-used knowledge base, increases collaboration even further. It means that users can identify exactly who they need to talk to, and which of their colleagues will be able to support their needs by filtering with categories.
4) Use a knowledge base to increase onboarding support
The onboarding process is the first introduction that your employees get to their new role and to the organization. However, particularly for companies making multiple hires, the process can be time consuming and put demands on internal resources, such as the often-stretched HR team. Having a knowledge base means that key documentation can be distributed during the first few weeks, making the onboarding process consistent and comprehensive.
Any training, documentation, or internal policies can be accessed in the new recruit’s own time. It also limits any confusion as the same information is shared with everyone; it cannot be taken out of context. Providing an onboarding space in your knowledge base also means that new employees can access the documentation multiple times, as and when they need it. It helps support those who learn differently from their colleagues and keeps the process inclusive for all.
Onboarding staff with the support of internal content also allows the organization to sell itself and provide information about workplace policies and cultural values. Particularly as we embark on widespread hybrid and remote working, access to a knowledge base for onboarding allows a connection with the entire company, opening up successful communication channels as everyone understands the business goals and requirements from day one.
5) How to keep knowledge base content relevant
The beauty of using a knowledge base on the intranet is that the content can be instantly updated to reflect any internal changes. That way, employees aren’t working off outdated information stored in an old email or listening to office rumors. It breaks down communication barriers and ensures that everyone has access to the updated information at all times.
A multichannel intranet means you can also distribute notifications about updated content to the places where employees work, whether that’s email inboxes of MS Teams channels.
There are an abundance of strategies and tools to support internal comms, but getting it wrong means siloed information, disconnected employees, and ultimately a loss of workplace culture. Using a knowledge base can drive collaboration by providing an opportunity for all available information to be in one centralized location, supported by intranet software. Employees have the tools they need to access documentation at any point to support any ongoing business activity through the advantages of the digital workplace.