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How to Prevent Knowledge Loss

How To Stop Knowledge Loss In Organizations

When employees leave a company, they take all of their knowledge with them—and if you don’t have a plan in place to preserve that knowledge before the employee exits your company, you’re going to experience knowledge loss. 

And in the current economic climate, employees are exiting companies more than ever before. 

In the midst of unprecedented employee turnover, having a plan in place to preserve organizational knowledge is more important than ever.

But what, exactly, is knowledge loss? What causes it? And how can you prevent institutional knowledge loss—and ensure that you preserve the knowledge you need to run your company effectively, even in the face of employee turnover?

What is Knowledge Loss? 

First things first. Before we jump into the causes of knowledge loss in organizations (and, more importantly, how to stop it), let’s quickly define what institutional knowledge loss is

Institutional knowledge is the collective understanding and information your organization—and the people who work for your organization—possess. This includes everything from the processes you have in place to deal with customers to the data you’ve collected during employee surveys to the ins and outs of navigating your company’s intranet or other internal software.

Knowledge loss, then, is when some of that collective understanding and/or information is lost. Or, in other words, when a company no longer has access to knowledge that it had previously.

Causes of Knowledge Loss? 

Knowledge loss can happen for a few different reasons:

Physical Loss

Sometimes, company information is physically lost. For example, let’s say you worked with a customer years ago, but the customer severed the relationship—and then an employee misplaces the only copy of that customer’s file. Or maybe you have all of your customer files saved on your company’s fixed network—and then a computer malfunction wipes out all of those files. 

Out-of-Date Knowledge

Sometimes, information simply becomes out-of-date or irrelevant—and that’s also considered a form of knowledge loss. For example, if your company has a training program on file that it used to train new employees—but leadership hasn’t used that program in 10+ years and has no intentions to use it in the future. Or let’s say your company used to operate on PCs, but has since moved to Macs; in that situation, any information connected to your corporate PCs would no longer be relevant. 

Employee Turnover

Knowledge loss happens for a variety of reasons. But arguably the biggest cause of institutional knowledge loss happens as a result of employee turnover.

Knowledge Loss from Employee Turnover

Often, an employee may be the only person that holds a specific piece of knowledge for a company—for example, how to manage a specific type of service request, the details of how a potential customer is moving through the sales cycle, or how to access a particular data set. If the employee leaves the organization without first transferring that knowledge to another team member, the company then loses access to that information—resulting in knowledge loss.

Ways to Prevent Knowledge Loss

Knowledge loss can wreak havoc on your business. But the good news? Institutional knowledge loss is easily preventable—as long as you put the right strategy in place.

Let’s take a look at the must-know techniques and tools to avoid the loss of organizational knowledge:

Top Ways to Increase Knowledge Retention

There are a number of strategies you can use to stop knowledge loss within your organization, including:

  • Do a knowledge loss risk assessment. Take stock of where your company currently stands from a knowledge loss perspective. Where do knowledge silos exist? Once you know what types of information are most at risk, you can create a strategy to protect that information.
  • Create processes for documenting knowledge in real-time. If, during your risk assessment, you realize that there are systems, processes, or other types of information that are siloed with specific teams or employees, it’s time to create a plan for documenting that knowledge in real-time. For example, you might ask your sales team to record their sales calls—and then write a document outlining the process. That way, if a salesperson leaves the organization, you can simply pass off the recording of the call and the document to any new sales reps to get them up to speed.
GoLinks Helps with Knowledge Loss
  • Make knowledge sharing a part of your offboarding process. Ideally, having your employees start documenting things in real-time will prevent knowledge from leaving your organization with exiting employees. But you can add an extra layer of protection by incorporating knowledge sharing into your offboarding process—and asking all exiting employees to document all of their processes and record any relevant knowledge before their last day.
  • Invest in knowledge management. Having all of your organization’s knowledge and information documented is one thing. But if your employees can’t find or access that knowledge, it might as well be lost—and that’s why you need to invest in knowledge management.

How to Retain Company Knowledge With Knowledge Management

IBM defines knowledge management as “the process of identifying, organizing, storing, and disseminating information within an organization”—and it is one of the biggest allies your organization has in combating institutional knowledge loss.

Companies that take a calculated approach to knowledge management make it easier for their teams to both record and access knowledge—and ensure that it’s stored safely and securely. This not only increases team efficiency and productivity but also dramatically lowers the chances that institutional knowledge will be lost.

The right knowledge management tools empower more effective knowledge management, making it easier for employees to store, manage, and share information across your information. The ideal knowledge management tech stack will depend on your company’s needs; for example, if you want employees to not only be able to effectively store and share information, but also collaborate on documents in real-time, you might consider a platform like Google Drive. If you want to create an internal knowledge base, you might consider a wiki software like Notion.

But whatever knowledge management software you choose, you want them to be easy to search, manage, and update—and that’s where GoLinks comes in.

GoLinks are short, memorable URLs

GoLinks are short, memorable URLs (like go/HRfiles or go/salespitches) that empower easier knowledge sharing across your organization. With GoLinks, you can make it easier for employees to find the information they need, when they need it—and to easily share that information with stakeholders both within and outside of your organization. GoLinks are also easy to update, ensuring that none of your knowledge is out-of-date or irrelevant—helping to prevent knowledge loss from all angles.

And because GoLinks seamlessly integrates with a huge variety of tools, it can support better knowledge management and sharing (and prevent institutional knowledge loss)—no matter what software or tools you decide to implement.

GoLinks Integrations

Use These Tips to Prevent Loss of Knowledge In Your Organization

Knowledge loss can cause serious damage to your company’s operations, efficiency, and productivity—and, as such, as an organization, you want to do everything you can to stop it. And with these tips, you have everything you need to prevent knowledge loss within your company—and ensure that the information you need to keep your business moving forward stays within your business no matter what the economic climate is.

Want to learn more about how GoLinks can empower better knowledge management—and help you prevent knowledge loss within your organization? Try it for free today!

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