Whatever the situation, you can never do more than your best with the prerequisites at hand. If co-workers lack the tools necessary to do their job to the best of their ability it may create a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration regarding the workplace. Most people want to feel like they know their job and know they’re doing it well. Such confirmation is important for our well-being. But what happens if we feel the opposite?
One reason many people experience stress at the workplace is that they spend a lot of time searching for knowledge and information but don’t where or how to find it. In a study made in Sweden 2010 it showed that 43% of the participants spend about thirty minutes every day to search for information. That obviously affects both employee and employer negatively. Employees may feel stress and frustration since time that could have been spent performing valuable work tasks is wasted searching for answers. In the short-term, stressed and frustrated co-workers may commit more errors than they would normally, since they feel the need to make up for lost time and hence lose focus. Long-term, their motivation and enthusiasm for the job will decrease since it is constantly accompanied by stress. Lastly, stress can also have serious health consequences.
Give your company a boost – make knowledge available and independent of individuals!
Lack of knowledge can create a vicious cycle for your entire organization. As humans, we are quite lazy and prefer to take the fastest and easiest way forward. If information is hard to find, it may lead to your co-workers giving up and stop using tools such as intranet and search pages. Instead they may contact system and product specialists directly, since this has become the fastest way to get information. Had the information been available in a common knowledge database accessible when needed co-workers could easily have gotten answers by themselves.
External channels such as YouTube and Google are commonly used in the search for answers. Even if the information found there is good, it may not harmonize with internal ways of working or routines. This might lead to parallel processes colliding with each other. So, in general, using external sources for information on internal processes is a bad idea. If you instead create an internal knowledge database, like an in-house Google, answers to organizational questions are easily found and accessed.
Slicing the elephant
With a few simple methods you can create a knowledge database, containing documentation and guides showing co-workers how to think and do in different situations. The following are four ways to approach this:
- The process is simplified if instructions are made from the perspective of the co-worker’s daily reality, the situations they face and the work routines they use. If the instructions mirror the processes in the organization, recognition will make it easier for co-workers to adapt. Simultaneously you assure that everyone in your organization follows the same process.
- You can create a sense of proximity to the database by using direct URL-links from or integration with your systems, intranet or processes. This decreases the number of clicks your co-workers needs to use which saves time for the company as well.
- The knowledge database can also be split up depending on different scenarios. This gives the co-worker options and choice. For example, does your query concern a new customer, or an existing one? This makes the stored information even more specific and relevant.
- Educating your co-workers on how to navigate and find information and knowledge makes a big difference. This means that support services, specialists and managers need to adapt a more coaching role and ask if people have checked in the handbook, instead of just answering the question.
Following these four steps will solve at least two of the challenges when implementing a digital knowledge database in your organization. It will increase the competence of your co-workers, which is important. It will also lead to your co-workers being less stressed and frustrated. These things will lead to increased efficiency and happier co-workers.