Knowledge Management and IHRM

04/12/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

In most organizations, 20 percent of the knowledge workers generate 80 percent of the knowledge. Those who generate and disseminate knowledge do so for the benefit of everyone in the organization, yet they are only rewarded if the knowledge is used. Without sufficient incentives over time, knowledge providers have less reason to generate knowledge. Moreover, unless knowledge contribution incentives are in place, people may hoard such knowledge and use it as a source of power within or against the organization.

Some HRMSs manage compensation and incentive schemes, such as annual bonuses and merit increases. Many of these incentives, however, do not account for whether an employee has contributed ideas or insights; they measure how well employees perform their jobs rather than how much they contribute to the firm’s knowledge. To properly encourage knowledge contributions, organizations must realign incentive schemes to accurately account for these vital contributions.

Organizations constantly change. Employees may seek more lucrative or more secure jobs, while organizations downsize or rightsize to reduce cost and meet numbers. In the middle of all this commotion, employees may decide to withhold their knowledge and take such insights when they leave at the expense of the organization. The most effective way to thwart this situation is to establish a knowledge market.

Knowledge Marketplace

An internal knowledge market is a place within an organization where individuals can buy and sell knowledge. It facilitates and motivates employees to share information while contributing to a climate for organizational knowledge exchange. A market mechanism provides various options for pricing knowledge, which can be used to reward employees. Such markets can be deployed over corporate intranet portals and linked to an HRMS.

Knowledge creation is only the beginning. The next issue is deciding where this knowledge should reside. How is knowledge moved from creators/producers to seekers/consumers? This problem is challenging because organizations reorganize perpetually through downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, and mergers and acquisitions. Hence, people with requisite knowledge get moved around or taken out of the organization; others with new knowledge enter the organization. Reorganization modifies job duties and departments, while downsizing and outsourcing may cause an organization to lose valuable tacit knowledge that stored within the minds of those removed from the organization.

Again, HRMSs can help cultivate this knowledge. These systems have internal directories or databases with phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other information for staff. Adding several extensions will help identify knowledge providers and sources, creating a knowledge map. While these mechanisms have been implemented in big consulting firms, their diffusion to the rest of the marketplace has been slow.

All it takes to implement such a knowledge map is to add two more fields to the existing employee database: one for areas of expertise and one for modes of communication. Then individuals can use the database to find expertise.

Employees have multiple means of communication. Moreover, not all employees are located in one area. Hence, while knowing who has the requisite knowledge is important, knowing how to get in touch with such individuals is critical. Within this system, employees can provide their preferred communication medium for knowledge exchange, along with alternatives.

The development of this database has a secondary benefit when it comes to the development of knowledge replenishment and training programs.

Knowledge Evaluation and Training

Over time, old knowledge can become a burden to the organization. Too much knowledge might institutionalize practices and make organizational change more difficult. Unless old knowledge is purged and deleted, individuals may not be ready to generate new ideas or adapt to new knowledge and thoughts. Hence, the constant evaluation of one’s stock and replenishment through training programs and/or hiring new personnel will be an important part of knowledge management.

The knowledge market discussed earlier incorporates a price mechanism that is suitable for knowledge evaluation. For example, in Fujitsu’s FIND2 system, knowledge not frequently accessed will be priced lower than other items and eventually will be deleted. Knowledge used frequently will be priced appropriately and appreciated.

Once an organization successfully eliminates junk or useless knowledge, it will need to replenish knowledge. Knowledge maps, if successfully updated in a timely fashion, might help an organization provide the right training to the right employees. The distribution map of expertise pinpoints whom or which unit or department has more expertise in valued knowledge domains. To fill gaps and discrepancies in expertise distribution, effective job rotation programs could be devised. Moreover, the organization could look at areas where employees may need to seek training to develop more skills.

Knowledge Protection

Since knowledge is a valuable resource that makes an organization competitive, it must be protected. To preserve the value of any asset, one needs to conduct routine maintenance activities. Protection and destruction practices safeguard organizational knowledge. Knowledge with strategic importance must be protected from planned and unplanned depletion. Planned depletion includes the loss of knowledge from personnel downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, and voluntary movement of personnel.

In such cases, an organization must have mechanisms to capture and retain knowledge. One common method is the use of exit interviews that capture individuals’ job-performance knowledge before they leave an organization. Another popular defense mechanism is debriefings after missions. Debriefings capture tacit insights gained and make them available to the rest of the organization.

While these activities are widely conducted in organizations, they could be improved with technology. With developments in video imaging, bandwidth and storage media, such debriefings could be electronically recorded for ease of dissemination. Moreover, they need not only happen when an employee leaves an organization; they could occur on a routine basis to capture the unstated insights of employees. These extractions could take the form of on-the-job supervision and recording of activities, so that new employees can learn from recordings. Most experts cannot articulate well how they perform their tasks. Such mechanisms will go a long way in helping newcomers learn by protecting such knowledge in its true form.

Unplanned depletion of knowledge can occur through human actions such as theft, knowledge leaks and intelligence activities from competitors, and through natural events such as earthquakes, floods and tornadoes that may damage organizational premises. Adequate security, backup and control mechanisms need to be in place to prevent such sabotages and to recover from natural disasters. Protection capabilities must be adequate to secure both tacit and explicit forms of knowledge.

Protecting explicit documents is a function of traditional security mechanisms such as passwords on documents and secured access to corporate property. These precautions fall under the realm of efforts associated with traditional disaster recovery and crisis planning. Securing tacit knowledge is much more difficult. One must ensure that employees are bound by non-disclosure agreements and background checks, and that they are trained appropriately.


New Technology

Businesses of all sizes continue to adopt cloud-based applications that are simplifying HR knowledge management.

For example, it is now possible to procure tools that automate the onboarding of new starters: add them to your system and they will send an automated chain of emails that gathers, processes and stores signed documents. Simple, automated knowledge management.

For existing employees, there is a range of self-service knowledge base tools to choose from. Think of knowledge bases as libraries. It’s where your company policies and information go to get organised into easily digestible content. These self-service libraries give your staff the information they need when they need it and are used for all sorts of things: holiday allowances, policies, training and more.

Collaborative culture

Collaborative software and instant messaging platforms make it easy for people to share both explicit and tacit information in real time. This helps not only to improve collaboration but also to disseminate time sensitive information on a grand scale.

According to Slack’s Future of Work study, 91% of workers are interested in feeling closer to their colleagues. By gathering, organizing, and sharing tacit knowledge with the right tools at work, you can provide an environment where people can establish more meaningful relationships. The result is increased trust between team members and a more satisfied and productive team overall.

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.


According to a Gallup study, employees who have high confidence in their organization’s financial future are nine times as likely to be engaged in their jobs compared with those who have lower confidence.

Similarly, a lack of transparency in how knowledge is shared and used to make decisions often leads to gaps in employee knowledge. It also chokes off opportunities for growth and innovation. If everyone is on the same page, they can work together to improve the organization’s explicit and tacit knowledge bases.

But, with proper investment in knowledge management systems, it will become increasingly easier for businesses to disseminate information throughout their workforces. Not just when it comes to company financials and strategies, but also with lessons learned.

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.

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.