How to encourage HR professionals to be knowledge sharers rather than knowledge hoarders

Like many professionals, HR professionals acquire a wealth of knowledge on the job and through specific training courses and development options. This knowledge is invaluable, as it equips them to handle a precious commodity–employees. So, while HR professionals are bound by confidentiality and have access to a lot of personal employee information, So, how can HR professionals find a way to sufficiently share knowledge and educate others in their team and company without impacting confidentiality?

It’s easy not to share knowledge

In a world of digital enhancements and the rise of remote and hybrid working, it’s easy for HR and other professionals to complete tasks and move on to the next one without sharing details or helping others learn from them. According to research by Deloitte, three-quarters of organisations believe that ‘Creating and preserving knowledge across evolving workforces is important or very important for their success.’ Yet, only 9% say they are ‘very ready’ to address this.

Confidentiality is not an excuse

Clearly, HR professionals will have access to a lot of confidential data and information about employees. While it’s imperative that they respect this confidentiality, the nature of their work cannot be seen as an excuse to hoard knowledge or not share it with others in the team or wider company.

While HR should never divulge salary details or discuss specific names or details (such as those individuals involved in terminating an employment contract or performance development meetings) to the wider company, there are endless possibilities for knowledge sharing. Processes, employment law, good practice, or lessons learned can be shared, and they may be especially useful for line managers.

For example, if a company initiative to restructure how bonuses are awarded is underway, it’s better to share information with the wider company about the reasons behind the change, the timing and its impact on employees when possible. By giving individuals valid business reasons for making changes and communicating this clearly with them, HR shares the reality and may help with engagement if individuals understand the details.

A place in the C-suite

HR also deserves a place in the C-Suite. The department head of HR should be part of this group to contribute to organizational strategy, share knowledge, educate other department heads, and influence other aspects of the company.

Certain business areas fall within HR’s remit and responsibility, and where HR holds such knowledge and expertise, it could really benefit the company over time. For instance, HR heads could share details about succession planning or employment law changes senior management should know. Or even talent strategies that impact employee engagement.

Opportunities within an organization

Sharing employment law knowledge and trends is also really important, especially for line managers. While managers will not need to know every law that applies to their workplace, HR can run short learning seminars during lunch hours in person or online for managers. In these sessions, HR team members could provide law updates on employment law changes in their country. Also, the impact of getting employment law wrong can impact managers and the company, so it’s crucial for managers to know current laws, risks and best practice.

Knowledge sharing within HR

Creating a culture where knowledge is freely shared is essential to building an environment where every question asked is a learning opportunity and where each employee’s insights are valued contributions to the organization’s knowledge.

A successful HR team will ideally boast this learning and knowledge-sharing environment where information is stored, discussed, and developed. A knowledge-sharing strategy can also include the use of a knowledge-sharing system. Such a system creates a single place for HR information to be stored, including policy documents, and ideally, with the option to analyse data to help with decision-making and planning.

CEO of Flex HR, Jennifer Morehead, believes in the importance of an internal team knowledge database. She says: ‘Knowledge management is rapidly becoming a business enabler, showcasing the need for organizations to become more sophisticated in their communication of inter-company information. For example, your company could implement a KM database that is accessible to all employees to store its information. Having an employee go directly to the knowledge storage area would omit any time delays that come with passing along information from person-to-person.’

Clarity about communication channels

Within the HR team, there must also be agreed protocols for team members to share knowledge. Whether this is via team meetings, where different members have the opportunity to share details about something they’re working on, or via emails or other documents, it’s important to have clear ways of communicating and sharing information, knowledge, and feedback.

Knowledge can also be shared by holding specific sessions for more experienced team members to share experience or knowledge with others or dedicated away days to conduct seminars or workshops to share knowledge openly, honestly, and without judgment.

Options for external knowledge sharing

There are also options for HR professionals to share knowledge outside their organization. Again, this does not mean sharing names or confidential details of any employees; it could be speaking with other HR professionals from similar firms or industries to share knowledge and examples, understand what others are doing and consider alternative views and opinions.

Social media sharing should certainly come with caution. HR professionals can share changes to employment law or promote their open vacancies or family-friendly policies, for example, but everything they share should err on the side of caution, and any personal employee details should never be shared.

HR professionals should also celebrate what they know and share their expertise more widely outside their company. This may be in the form of writing articles on LinkedIn or contributing to articles. Or perhaps speaking at conferences to discuss what successful strategic measures they have taken or areas where they have experienced challenges and how they overcame them.

Encouraging and promoting a culture of HR knowledge sharing may increase employee engagement and the performance and reputation of the HR team; it could also improve overall knowledge across the team, build commitment and enhance communication between HR professionals and HR and the wider company.

Author: Sarah Haselwood

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