Why you need an internal knowledge base for your business

Catherine Heath | January 5, 2019

We often talk about customer-facing knowledge bases, but what about your internal staff? You should treat them just like customers, and they too can benefit from an internal knowledge base.

An internal knowledge base shows your staff that you care about them. A knowledge base product can not only be used as a publishing and collaboration tool, but it’s also a ready-made website that will look good to your users.

Unfortunately, many companies are not making use of a good internal knowledge base. To make matters worse, Fortune 500 companies have lost $31.5 billion per year by failing to share knowledge effectively.

An internal knowledge base can go a long way towards saving you a fortune. We’ll now going into how it can benefit your organization.

Speeding up staff onboarding

The average new employee spends 200 hours in unproductive working due to ineffective training.

As an organization scales, it becomes impossible to train such a large volume of staff without a self-service portal. Many companies opt for a training playbook for new employees which they host as an internal knowledge base.

Nothing beats personal training, but it’s also time away from the job for the staff who must conduct the training. With an internal knowledge base, new employees can learn at their own pace, and also have the ability to return to the information whenever they wish.

As for existing staff, your company has information that everyone in the business needs to know. This could be regarding vacation policy, dress code, code of conduct, or anything else. An internal knowledge base is crucial for allowing human resources to disseminate information to the entire team.

Improving staff engagement

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow,” says Jack Welch.

Happier staff stay longer in your organization. Staff are happy when you invest in them. Unfortunately, companies are experiencing an employee engagement crisis, with 13% of staff saying they feel engaged worldwide, and 18% of US employees saying they feel actively disengaged.

One of the primary causes of this demotivation is a lack of communication. A way to improve staff engagement is to invest in better communication with your staff, and this is where an internal knowledge base comes in. Employees have more access to the information they need when it’s presented 24/7 as a self-service portal.

Reduce staff attrition

Employee retention is crucial to business growth. According to the Towers Watson report, younger employees now want security and stability from their employers. Replacing an entry level employee costs 30–50% of their annual salary, and replacing a highly specialized employee can cost 400% of their salary!

It’s just good business sense to reduce staff attrition, and an internal knowledge base is part of keeping staff in your company. This is because it keeps morale high since staff are more able to do their jobs properly when they can find the right information.

Learning and development is also a key component of retaining millennial staff members, and a knowledge base can be used as an online learning portal.

Retain knowledge

According to the Economist, we “live in an an economy where knowledge is the primary resource, and knowledge workers are the dominant workforce group.” It’s crucial to curate this knowledge, for the reasons that we’ll go into now.

Even though we live in a knowledge economy, losing knowledge is responsible for businesses wasting up to $4.5 billion per year.

Many staff are crucial linchpins for your business, and when they leave for a better job, to retire, or perhaps start a family, they take the knowledge they’ve gained over potentially decades of experience with them.

And internal knowledge base helps you record this knowledge for posterity. It gets it out of the heads of your employees and into a centralized repository so that your most valuable commodity doesn’t get lost.

Boost productivity

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed,” says Peter Drucker. And yet so much time is wasted on repeating the exact same tasks, resulting in lost productivity for your team.

An internal knowledge base reduces the need to duplicate effort by recording essential information in a centralized place, and you can also easily update this information when needed. Instead of many different versions of a document floating around, you just get one page with version control. You can even return to previous versions if needed.

An internal knowledge base is also searchable, including within the body of the content, so employees can quickly find what they need.

Improve collaboration

An internal knowledge base also helps your team to collaborate better. You can create a centralized repository for staff who need to reuse the same information regularly in their job.

For example, your support team can benefit from an internal knowledge base that easily integrates with your help desk software, so they can turn tickets into help content with the click of a button. In reverse, support staff can also find existing help content through the integration and easily include it in customer tickets.

And for product-focused teams, it’s really important to have a centralized resource where everyone can find the information they need to work efficiently. Staff will get used to looking in the same place for what they need, and spend less time hunting around all your different information resources. This means a quicker time to market and an edge over your competitors.

Good User Experience

Digital assets must now all be easy and pleasant to use. Sending staff to the uninhabited wilds of the shared drive is now no longer an option – nor is a user interface from 1995.

If you want to staff to actually use and share the documents you provide, you must invest in their presentation as well as the contents. Instead of keeping all your documents on a shared drive, an internal knowledge base provides a centrally managed portal with inherent organization.

The front-end of the knowledge base is styled with HTML and CSS so that it looks visually appealing, and is on brand with your organization. It’s a pleasure for your staff to use, instead of a chore.

Final remarks

Hopefully it will be clear by now that there are many excellent reasons for investing in an internal knowledge base for your employees.

From enabling you to retain more employees, to onboarding new employees much more quickly, to boosting productivity, an internal knowledge base has many benefits. That being said, it’s not a catch-all solution to every problem, and requires real work to get right.

But when you do get it right, you reap the benefits in happier employees and wider profit margins.

Now check out our previous post on how to know whether your team needs an internal knowledge base.

Our own knowledge base software KnowledgeOwl is used by many companies as a stunning internal knowledge base. Take it for a free spin.


About the author
Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath

Community builder at KnowledgeOwl. Blogs. Copy. Documentation. Freelance content writer for creative and ethical companies. Contributing to open source and teaching technical tools.

Catherine blogs on her personal websites Away With Words and Awkward Writer. She runs the Write the Docs Northwest meetup group. 


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