The HR manager’s responsibility — keeping knowledge inside the organization
In today’s business world, human resource management is often about finding the right answer to important questions, and quickly. But as with anything, no one can have all the answers. How can HR staff stay on top of the latest changes to maternity leave, union contracts, vacation policies, and retirement accounts and how these policies affect employees? And what if special agreements for individual regions and applicable state laws must also be taken into consideration?
The best answer to all these questions is a good knowledge management solution. This type of software aggregates all the information in a central repository and makes it available to employees through a self-service portal. This way, Human Resources only has to feed the software with its knowledge — and employees in the organization will always be able to find the correct answers to their questions themselves.
Knowledge management for human resources is particularly helpful for companies with a decentralized structure. Flat organizations and businesses that consist of a collection of branch locations often have many individual details that are determined by peculiarities of the particular region or collective agreements. As an international business entity, you can have the key content written in English and then localize versions for your national subsidiaries. The benefits of this approach become apparent for instance when negotiating contracts. Even if the human resources manager in the respective country does not speak the same language as the parent company, the knowledge management system ensures that they nevertheless have access to the most current information. Access control also ensures that individual employees receive precisely the information that they require.
Different access rights, consistent information
Knowledge is power — it’s a maxim that applies to human resource management as well. That means due care must be taken with a company’s knowledge. In practice, that means most knowledge management systems support role-based access control and customizable permissions. Executives are given access to different things than the rest of the staff.
But of course branch managers in different cities, for instance, will always have access to the same information or the information that applies to their own regions. Instead of repeatedly answering the same question on the telephone again and again, human resources personnel simply update the knowledge management database. For instance if the number of vacation days in the collective bargaining agreement has changed, a staff member in Seattle can find out how many vacation days company management in San Francisco has calculated they have left by simply checking the knowledge app.
First day on the job, and already up to date
Onboarding new employees often takes weeks or months. That’s rarely because the new hire lacks motivation, but rather a consequence of the complex structures within the company or insufficient time spent with the predecessor before assuming the responsibilities of the new position. Lots of necessary information — from the way the office is organized to subject matter knowledge — can be difficult to access, no longer current, or disorganized. With the knowledge management app, new hires no longer need to rummage through outdated files to get to know a company or comb through entire disk drives to find the most recent documents. Comprehensive information is always at the ready within simple filing systems — and that extends beyond the beginning of the employment relationship. The onboarding process itself can even be efficiently organized using knowledge management by determining which information a new employee should become familiar with during the first few days and weeks at the company.
We use Sabio internally to support both existing staff and when we’re getting new hires up to speed. Important information isn’t just passed on by word-of-mouth. It’s also available online. Everything from personnel issues and internal procedures to who is working on what projects in which teams. Junior and senior colleagues alike find all the information they need in the knowledge management system. No one has to rely on someone’s best guess anymore. That helps everybody and makes productive collaboration possible.
— Ronja Grosstück, HR manager at SABIO
Transgourmet, a major supplier of restaurants, hotels, and cafeterias, has implemented a knowledge management system to considerably improve its onboarding process for new hires. Instead of wading through an intranet, network drives, and an ocean of emails, new employees now simply go to their knowledge app. New customer service reps, who must answer as many as 150 different questions every day, used to have a particularly tough time getting up to speed. The simple navigation tree in the knowledge management system has now accelerated the onboarding process considerably
The system also saves specialists within the company time because they receive far fewer questions, yet are still able to share their knowledge by updating the knowledge management system. When customer service staff in turn receive reliable information, customers are also more satisfied. Taking the burden off specialists also makes collaboration easier and improves the working climate.
A reliable source of knowledge for Human Resources
Knowledge management can be extremely useful to more than just the Human Resources department itself. Customers and employees benefit from the system’s reliability. The ability to keep information about SABIO constantly up to date allows our HR department to project confidence and competence to other departments.
In the digital era, knowledge is always a question of access. If you can get answers quicker than everyone else, you’ve got an edge. With knowledge management systems, key information stays within your organization even when employees no longer work for the company. Their knowledge is easy to pass on to future employees who can then benefit from it.
And what can better knowledge management do for you?
Find out yourself — take SABIO for a free, no-obligation test drive. Get information, consultation, and access to a demo version at www.getsabio.com.