The average business in the US loses $47 million (!) per year in productivity due to insufficient knowledge sharing.

Overlooking company-wide knowledge kept with individual employees (technically known as institutional knowledge) can take a toll on employee performance and motivation.

If you’re serious about preserving institutional knowledge, you’ll find this guide helpful. We’ll cover the basics of what institutional knowledge is and lay out steps to start retaining it.

What is institutional knowledge?

Institutional knowledge is the collective knowledge of a company’s employees including information on workflows, processes, best practices learned over years of projects.

Think of it as an organization’s collective memory.

As employees retire or take on other jobs, they take their experiences, expertise, and lessons learned over the job with them — leaving nothing with the company.

Institutional knowledge is the sum of employee insights, experiences, information, and context that preserves a company’s memory center.

What institutional knowledge does though is that it preserves this collective employee memories, so the company develops its own memory center.

4 ways institutional knowledge positively impacts business

Besides serving as a company’s memory center over the years, institutional knowledge helps improve productivity, employee performance, and more.

Let’s look at these benefits of storing and using institutional knowledge:

1. Improves company processes, efficiency, and accessibility

Easily and quickly accessing preserved information helps you improve a team onboarding process, employee trainings, and customer education.

Panopto’s research reveals employees spend 5.3 hours per week sourcing information from their colleagues. 60% of them also say it’s difficult, nearly difficult, or nearly impossible to get project-required information from colleagues.

Thankfully, institutional knowledge decentralizes information, making it available and accessible for everyone. This is particularly useful for remote companies where employees work at their own pace in different time zones.

2. Boosts employee job satisfaction and performance

An institutional knowledge bank reduces the unnecessary back and forth needed to obtain information, leaving employees with more room for focused work.

The free information flow — otherwise lost to team silos — also empowers employees with the data they need to do their job, improving performance.Not to mention, institutional knowledge sharing also reduces the frustration that 81% of employees experience when they can’t access information they need to do get their job done.

3. Improves company productivity and bottom line

New hires spend 200 hours on average trying to find lost information or attempting to recreate processes. That’s lost productivity and efficiency.

To add, inefficient knowledge sharing contributes revenue losses between $2.7 million to $265 million depending on a business’s size. Better knowledge sharing practices can help organizations reduce the time new hires spend searching for necessary information to do their jobs.

4. Creates a culture of learning

As more and more employees get in the habit of documenting their processes, workflows, and work principles, they can trade information to optimize processes.

Taking the time to create info-sharing documents and videos also gives employees the chance to reflect on their learnings, identifying gaps in it.

5 ways to retain, share, and scale institutional knowledge

Creating a company-wide knowledge hub can seem like a daunting task — especially if you’re only just realizing you need to document things. But it’s nothing that having a defined process and invested employees can’t solve.

1. Leverage internal subject matter experts

Leverage employees to deliver knowledge-sharing workshops and create short courses.

For example, Trello hosts Coffee Talks on Friday afternoons where peers share their knowledge in 30-60 min long presentations.Request department heads and managers to ask their teams who they’d like to learn from and about what. Then plan fortnightly or monthly workshops — live stream them if you’re a remote company.

Bonus points for recording sessions as it preserves content, making them available in the long haul.

2. Build an internal intranet or wiki

An intranet site is a private website an organization creates for company-wide community, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

You can also create a wiki-style knowledge playbook in a knowledge management tool such as Notion. It lets you format pages the way you prefer. You can also easily embed training videos and screenshots.

Pro tip: If you’re a small team and unsure where to start, comb through the more frequent questions your team asks you and document the answers.

3. Create a video library to host all your trainings, town halls, product information

A video library is a central home for all your knowledge-sharing videos so employees can easily access them anytime. From the peer-to-peer presentation videos to internal experts’ workshops and town halls, make sure you add all video content to your library.

You don’t have to create new content for this library — although using Vimeo’s Video Library, you can record new videos within the video hub too. Add the following:

  • Peer-to-peer presentation videos, internal experts workshops, and town halls
  • Edited, screen-recorded videos created for individual employees but containing information that’s useful for others too

For one, Vimeo lets you organize video content in workplaces and subfolders. Take it from the team at Axalta that uses the Video Library for knowledge sharing. Their Virtual Training Manager, Steve Hamaday, shares:

“The subfolder and folder organization is extremely useful when organizing our content, whether it’s external-facing, or just for our team on the back end. This has made it so much easier for our team to collaborate, organize, and minimize the time searching for assets.”

Secondly, it automatically transcribes the videos so staff can search for videos by captions by typing in whatever words they remember in the search box.4. Build documentation of new processes a part of your team’s workflow

4. Build documentation of new processes a part of your team’s workflow

Teams won’t get in the habit of documenting their processes overnight. Two things that help though:

  • Get employees on board by sharing the benefits of knowledge sharing for them. Highlight how it’ll help them save time and increase productivity — even grow their own knowledge in the process.
  • Get employees involved. Instead of sharing a set of steps to take, collaborate with them on the best way to build a process for documentation. Suggest tools and take recommendations. Share examples of how others are doing it. And source feedback on which format(s) they’d prefer to document their processes in.

Once you’ve taken all suggestions, distill down to an efficient documentation process and record a guide sharing it. Identify:

  • Who will be responsible for what?
  • What tools will employees use for documentation?
  • What makes an idea suitable for documentation?

Share quality-boosting best practices as well. For example, advise employees to keep their training videos to 5-mins long. If they’re creating long videos, ask them to add video chapters.

Pro tip: Encourage employees to pencil in time to document their processes, work principles, and best practices. Without scheduling time, they’ll likely keep pushing the project down their priority list.

5. Create a workflow

You also need a documentation workflow on top of the process, tools, and examples. This should outline the stages the content will pass through from production to its addition to your knowledge share central hub.

Here’s an example workflow:

  • Ideation. Work out ideas and processes to document
  • Outlining. Pre-plan what to share in each video/document before creating
  • Create. Record the raw material — video or text, whatever format suits the idea
  • Edit. Either work with an editor or pass it on to a dedicated team with a brief sharing the creator’s ideas for improving the content’s brevity, readability, and usability.

Build your library of institutional knowledge

To recap, preserving institutional knowledge helps improve company-wide processes. It also boosts employee motivation, performance, and productivity levels.

Before you start retaining and storing knowledge, make sure you:

  • Identify the tools to use for documentation and pick out a central library to host all institutional knowledge.
  • Audit prevailing content to identify videos and previously shared feedback notes that is worth editing and adding to your internal knowledge center.
  • Create a production workflow and lay out a process to standardize creating easy-to-digest documentation.

And if you’re looking for a home for all those videos that you create, we recommend you take Video Library for a spin.

Unlock knowledge with video library