As companies grow larger, something called “the silo effect” becomes more and more prominent. To break the communication siloes, companies need to focus on encouraging and rewarding people who actively contribute to an open communication culture.
Imagine you’re a marketer looking for statistics about your company’s product to put on a web page or in a social post. You spend hours getting your analytics team to pull data and then a few more hours searching the internet for facts that support your message. After you finally get everything together, a salesperson looks over your shoulder, saying, “Oh, cool! We have a whole slide deck about that for our demos,” and then proceeds to show you a presentation on the company server that would’ve saved you days.
Siloing is when employees in the same organization don’t share knowledge or communicate. It’s bad for employee effectiveness, company culture, and productivity. And the best way to combat siloing is with knowledge sharing.
What Is Knowledge Sharing
Knowledge sharing is when individuals and groups actively collect and share knowledge with each other. Not only do they communicate knowledge, they also seek out others who may find their knowledge useful. According to a research paper in the Journal of Management Studies, knowledge sharing transforms individual knowledge into organizational knowledge.
Why Knowledge Sharing Is Important
Data from the IDC shows that the average knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30 percent of the workday, searching for information. Companies can cut down on that time by creating a culture that fosters knowledge sharing and makes information easier to find. Inspiring knowledge sharing is one of the most crucial things you can do to improve efficiency and productivity in a company.
How to Reward Knowledge Sharing
Along with increasing output, knowledge sharing also empowers employees; it creates opportunities for personal and professional growth, accelerates cross-functional learning, and increases innovation. Rewarding knowledge sharing will improve your company and also grow your employees.
Here are a few creative ideas on how to reward knowledge sharing in your organization:
- Publicly acknowledge the people who participate in knowledge sharing in a team meeting.
- Privately thank employees with a hand-written note from an executive or a manager or personal gift.
- Track knowledge sharing with metrics and create a visible leaderboard.
- Make champion knowledge-sharers “CEO for a day” and let them set a casual dress day, schedule a potluck, or make a speech at a team meeting.
- Put together a lunch with an executive where the most active sharers of knowledge are invited.
- Offer team members swag for knowledge sharing.
- Host a company lunch where you celebrate knowledge sharing and recognize the people who do it.
- Organize a community volunteer activity and let a top knowledge sharing employee choose the organization/event.
- Call the employee into your office to just say thanks. Don’t discuss other issues; only talk about the good work.
- Present a certificate or plaque in honor of a knowledge sharing achievement.
- Highlight employees in your company newsletter or on the website.
- Give knowledge-sharing employee a dedicated parking space for a week or month.
- Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off when you see knowledge sharing happening. Employees can collect them to add up to leaving an hour early one day or coming in late one day.
- Know your employees’ favorite morning treat (donuts, smoothies, etc.) and show up with it the day after you see knowledge sharing on your team.
- Find out what an employee’s favorite drink is and get him or her a six-pack.
- Pay for a team that’s active in knowledge sharing to get in-office massages.
- Develop a peer recognition program that lets employees recognize each other for knowledge sharing, possibly on a community bulletin board or internal website
- For employees that actively knowledge share, find out what their favorite charity is and donate to it in their honor.
- Create a traveling trophy (for example, a golden object, special hat, or figurine) that moves from employee to employee based on who last shared knowledge.
- Start a “pay it forward” initiative where employees receive a trinket for knowledge sharing and then pass it to other employees that knowledge share with them.
- Highlight and post knowledge sharing achievements on a community bullet board, in the breakroom, or in the lunchroom.
- Give a team that actively shares knowledge a one-day activity (e.g. bowling, mini golf, or playing with puppies over lunch).
Knowledge sharing within an organization is a great way to build company culture and productivity in one fell swoop. There are many ways to reward knowledge sharing, so it’s important to remember to tailor rewards to what motivates and drives different groups or even each specific person. After you implement knowledge sharing in your company, the professional benefits and camaraderie will get employees onboard and continue the trend.