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Why HR Knowledge Management Is So Important for Your Organization

Posted by on May 30, 2019

HR Knowledge Management

From insurance and benefits information, to company policies, to onboarding, and beyond, human resource (HR) organizations are the keepers of some of a company’s most vital information—and the information employees most often need access to. Without the right solution in place, dispersing information and answering questions can take up an inordinate amount of an HR team’s time, pushing more critical tasks down the to-do list.

Provisioning an HR knowledge management solution is a great way for HR teams to recapture some of that precious time by making information and answers simple and easy for employees to find themselves. When the right HR knowledge management solution is fully implemented and used wisely, HR teams will wonder how they ever operated without one.

What Is HR Knowledge Management?

HR knowledge management is the practice of centralizing all HR documents, policies, information, and knowledge, and making that vital information easy for anyone in the company to access and update from anywhere.

The key to this central repository is that it allows employees—regardless of department, location, or tenure—to quickly access the HR information they need via a 24/7 self-service portal. This reduces frustration for employees, the chance of getting outdated or misinformation, and workload for HR staff (who no longer have to answer the same question over and over again).

Why Is HR Knowledge Management Important?

While it may seem like information decentralization isn’t that big of a deal, when spread across an entire organization it can have a major impact. A recent study on Workplace Knowledge and Productivity found that 60% of employees spend five hours or more per week waiting for information. With HR being a major source of vital information for employees across an organization, HR knowledge management is an easy way to reduce that bottleneck.

In today’s business world, human resource management is often about finding the right answer to important questions, and quickly. HR knowledge management solutions are a simple, effective, streamlined answer to that growing challenge.

Related: 5 Essential Components of an Enterprise-Class HR Service Management Solution

8 Key Examples of Knowledge Management in HR

Easy-to-access, up-to-date information that employees can find themselves may be enough of an incentive for some organizations to adopt HR knowledge management. But smart organizations can realize both hard and soft additional benefits from a well implemented solution.

1. Role-Based Access Control and Customizable Permissions

A major benefit of HR knowledge management is allowing employees to find and access the information they need without the assistance of HR. But if you make all information accessible to every employee, they can become overwhelmed or access information not meant for them. Implementing proper permissions and role-based access controls mitigates this issue. This is important from a practical business perspective in that not every employee should be able to see all of a company’s available HR documents, policies, and agreements. It also makes the HR knowledge management portal easier for employees to use by quickly surfacing exactly the information they need.

Customized permissions are particularly important for organizations with a large geographic footprint. Some information may need to be localized based on state or country laws and regulations. In these situations, you’ll want to ensure that employees at each location have fast, easy, clear access to the correct information. If they access (or worse, are sent) the wrong document, it can have a very real negative impact on the business.

The ability to implement role-based access controls and customized permissions reduces the chance that an employee will receive the wrong information and makes the process automatic, rather than an HR employee repeatedly having to track down the correct documents.

2. Improve Onboarding New Employees

Employee onboarding can make or break a new employee’s experience. Onboarding packets are helpful, but they’re easily misplaced and cumbersome for HR to update. In the end, onboarding inefficiencies can cost more than $250,000 annually for an organization of 1,000, according to the Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report. And as organizations grow, so does that cost.

Moving employee onboarding to the HR knowledge management platform makes it easy for HR to add new information and update existing information as needed. It also gives the employee a simple way to access the information they need at any time—even months after their start date when a traditional onboarding packet may have been lost. Having new employees access onboading information in the same place they’ll go to later for overall organizational and HR knowledge serves the dual purpose of getting them familiar with this vital business tool.

By simplifying the HR portion of new employee onboarding, organizations can improve the employee experience, reduce onboarding time, and minimize onboarding inefficiency costs.

Related: Onboarding and Offboarding Best Practices

3. Spend Less Time Recreating Existing Knowledge

Time is valuable, why spend it answering the same questions over and over or digging up a document you’ve already created. Without a centralized repository that employees can access, that’s exactly what happens to most HR teams. Worse, an HR employee may recreate a document that already exists because they don’t know about it or can’t find it. While that happening once might not be a big deal, unnecessarily creating documents, policies, etc. repeatedly is a waste of valuable HR resources.

A well organized HR knowledge management platform makes it easy for teams (even dispersed ones) to know exactly what exists and what really needs to be created. Even if a new document or policy does need to be created, teams may be able to minimize effort and time by working off an existing document rather than creating something entirely from scratch. In many cases, the knowledge and framework is already there, certain aspects may simply need to be tweaked or updated.

4. Get the Information You Need Sooner (and with Fewer Headaches)

There is little in the corporate world more frustrating than asking a question and then having to wait for an answer. But more often than not you ask the question, wait, send a reminder, wait some more, etc. With one HR team servicing an entire organization, simple questions easily get lost in the daily grind, leaving the employee waiting. An HR knowledge management system removes this obstacle almost entirely. With good platform organization and proper role-based access controls in place, all employees can get the information they’re seeking faster and easier without having to wait on HR. For human resource employees, this means a lot less time answering questions and seeking out the right documents.

Dispersed HR teams will also find it easier to get the information they need when a knowledge management solution is in place. Need to create an office-specific policy? You can quickly see what other locations have done or reference a corporate policy to ensure you’re in-line with the broader organization…without having to send a dozen emails to collect all the information you need.

5. Make Fewer Mistakes

Clear, consistent documentation that’s accessible in a centralized location limits the risk of mixed messages and miscommunicated information. It’s critical that all employees are working off of the most up-to-date information, policies, and documents. That can be hard to execute when updated documents sit with individuals without a fast, reliable way to share the information throughout the entire organization. Without a well-maintained HR knowledge management platform, issues are bound to occur (especially if you rely on something as impermanent as email to distribute updates).

Up-to-date access becomes more critical and more challenging with living documents that are regularly updated. Not all HR information is an official policy that’s revisited once a year. It may be a general document that answers common questions or outlines company practices. These are typically living documents that grow as employees ask new questions or make new mistakes. Having this information documented, widely shared, and easily accessible not only saves time, it can also help prevent issues and mistakes from happening again in different departments or locations.

6. Make Informed Decisions Faster

HR knowledge management platforms aren’t just libraries. When used to the fullest potential, it can offer valuable insights into organizational health and potential risks. Having access to “Last Updated” dates will help HR teams track which documents or policies may been to be reviewed for updating. Looking at metrics such as which department accessed the knowledge management system most (or least) and which files are most viewed can tell HR teams where additional training or clarification may be needed. Having a knowledge management system that allows employees to ask questions or seek clarification within the same portal further streamlines the HR information process and can give teams insight into missing or confusing information.

Having easy access to data-based information allows HR teams to more accurately plan future documentation and updates in a way that will truly benefit the organization. It can also help teams proactively address potential trouble areas rather than dealing with an issue that has already occured.

7. Standardize Processes

HR knowledge management platforms can function as a single source of truth. Having this information easily available to everyone lowers the chance of mistakes, lessens miscommunications, shortens timelines for getting answers and information, and generally standardizes the overall process of information gathering, allowing employees to move forward quickly and in-line with corporate expectations. Without a standard process for getting HR answers from a single knowledge center, organizations run the risk of different employees getting different answers to the same question.

When organization’s enforce the expectation that employees should access the HR knowledge management system to answer questions before asking HR, that process will become ingrained in the company culture, making HR’s job a little bit easier.

8. Provide Better Service to Employees

We live in an on-demand, get-it-now world. The saying “there’s an app for that” has become a joke phrase, but the spirit behind it remains true—people expect to be able to get any information they want at any time without delay. That includes answers to their questions at work, particularly about aspects like benefits, insurance, vacation time, company holidays, 401ks, etc.

Centralized HR knowledge management feeds into the way people are used to accessing information. Enabling employees to quickly and easily get answers themselves without waiting for an emailed reply creates a better overall experience. This not only increases employee morale, but can also improve productivity as employees are able to quickly find an answer and move on instead of dwelling on their question (for potentially days).

Knowing HR Knowledge Management Is Important Isn’t Enough

This all may make sense and sound enticing, but without taking action to implement HR knowledge management, nothing will ever change. Creating a shared drive or in-house HR management system may seem like a lower barrier to entry, but overall it won’t give organizations the level of control and insight they’re likely looking for. Finding a service-based solution will give HR teams truly effective HR knowledge management.

When thinking about HR knowledge management, create a team that will outline the expectations and scope of the project then find the right solution. This team can also be responsible for outlining the implementation strategy and creating a plan for training to encourage company-wide adoption.

A few things to consider during the planning phase include:

  • Documenting everything that will need to live in the HR knowledge management platform

  • Creating a general framework for how that information will be organized

  • Outlining anticipated role-based access controls and customizable permissions

  • Creating a strategy and timeline for populating the HR knowledge management platform

  • Planning company-wide training on the new system

Finding the Right HR Knowledge Management Solution

Successful HR knowledge management platforms are highly sophisticated solutions. Instead of spending precious time and resources building a basic portal in-house, team up with a proven service provider who already understands how a great HR knowledge management platform should work.

Cherwell’s robust HR Service Management solution combines a self-service HR knowledge management portal with other key HR services like centralized case management and easy employee onboarding. This integrated combination of services allows HR teams to realize the full benefits of HR knowledge management without the heavy lifting of creating a customized solution in-house.

Learn how HR knowledge management can work for your organization with a live, personalized demo!

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