Poor knowledge sharing costing employers millions

The average large organisation loses $47m (£36m) a year in lost productivity due to poor knowledge sharing and insufficient onboarding processes, it has been claimed.

Workers spend on average 5.3 hours per week waiting on the information, guidance or in-house training needed to carry out their role, according to a survey of 1,001 employees of large US organisations commissioned by e-learning software provider Panopto.

This results in each person spending an average of 8.47 hours a week working inefficiently, attempting to solve problems through trial and error, reworking a task because their previous approach failed and searching the internet for the knowledge needed to carry out a task.

Panopto’s Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report 2018 found that improved knowledge sharing could save a large organisation with 17,700 employees $42.5m per year, while improving onboarding for new employees could result in $4.5m in savings.

Employees spent an average of 5.6 hours a week duplicating the work of a colleague, either because that co-worker wasn’t available to help or point them to the right resources, or because they simply were not aware the task had been completed.

It determined that new starters spent around 12.7 hours a week asking for help, often facing delays in getting the information they need or duplicating colleagues’ work. They received around 2.5 months of formal onboarding, but claimed they needed six months to fully get to grips with their role.

Three in 10 employees believed their organisation does not provide enough training, and half said they would benefit from more training resources.

Eric Burns, co-founder and CEO of Panopto, said: “Every employee in every company contributes to institutional knowledge.

“However, employee expertise is fleeting when it’s only shared through conversation. To remain competitive, businesses must provide the tools to preserve institutional knowledge and instil a culture of teaching among employees.”

Fifty four per cent of those surveyed said work and personal experience was the most important source of expertise, over professional training and education. However, 81% said it was the hardest to replace if employees left the business or were unavailable.

The report said that employers needed to take stock of “unique knowledge” – ideas that nobody else in an organisation has – and see it as a valuable asset to their business.

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