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Boost Technical Competence and Productivity with Continuous Learning for Employees via a Knowledge Base

Employees must know how to use workplace technology to perform their jobs effectively. How they learn company technology (or not) is all up to the training resources provided. Knowing how to use technology doesn’t happen by chance, and employees rarely come with the technical skills, especially for company-specific software.

But what are the best ways to provide employee training? There are so many options, from traditional live trainer-run sessions to eLearning. Then, there are self-serve options such as performance support, contextual help, and a knowledge base.

Whatever training method is provided, employees won’t remember everything. They need resources to refer to and find answers to their questions. While contextual help built into an application is nice, it can be expensive and sometimes limited.

There should always be a knowledge base available that will encourage an environment of continuous learning. It encourages continuous learning because having those resources available and encouraging employees to use them is a great way to prevent learned helplessness.

Instead of immediately calling the help desk, team members can effortlessly find the information they need right when needed, empowering them to solve problems and learn independently. That also means reduced help desk calls.

A knowledge base provides a permanent resource for employees to help themselves.

This isn’t a far-fetched dream; it’s an achievable reality through strategically implementing a single-source knowledge base that encourages continuous learning. If it isn’t easy to use and all the content isn’t searchable, it’s as good as useless.

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, staying ahead of the curve means embracing an ethos of ongoing education and skill enhancement. A knowledge base does more than just store information; it transforms how employees access and utilize resources, fostering an environment of self-sufficiency and proactive learning.

Building a knowledge base with quality resources is a game changer and a differentiator for smaller companies that sell software tools. Consumers are likelier to stick around if they know how to use features and can find the help they need.

A good knowledge base for consumer-facing software tools also offers great search engine optimization (SEO). All those help articles rank in search engines, and when they relate to problems people, in general, are having, they’ll learn about your tool and become instant fans.

We’ve built public-facing knowledge base platforms on WordPress for clients, and we’ll cover some information about that at the end of this post.

There’s nothing better for a company than having employees who constantly evolve and learn. Making those resources easily available encourages a continuous learning culture that’s invaluable to business growth.

The Significance of Continuous Learning in Today’s Workplace

Continuous learning is no longer a luxury that only some companies provide. It’s expected that companies will have difficulty retaining talent and growing employees without it. The need for continuous learning in technology is even more pronounced.

The traditional model of education, where individuals acquire knowledge and skills before entering the workforce isn’t sufficient to keep up with the demands of modern businesses. Plus, the workplace is always changing, and technology is rapidly evolving.

Technology and the software employees use at work are advancing at an unprecedented pace. They’re also expected to use several tools to do their jobs, which also change rapidly. Employees must constantly update their skills to remain relevant and competitive.

A company that doesn’t encourage and provide resources for continuous learning will have a limited lifespan.

Continuous learning enables employees to do their work more effectively, acquire new skills, and adapt to changing job requirements. It empowers them to take ownership of their professional development and ensures they have the knowledge to excel in their roles.

A good example of this is something I encountered a few years ago. A customer service representative was helping me out on the phone. You could tell she wasn’t well trained on the software she was using to look information up and make changes. She did her best, but it could have been better with better training from the company.

Those kinds of fumbles are entirely the company’s fault. They’ll also pay the cost in the long run.

By investing in continuous learning, organizations will show that they care about their employees and ensure they do their jobs effectively with company technology.

Leveraging a Knowledge Base for Employee Development

A knowledge base serves as a centralized repository of information that employees can access anytime, anywhere. If it’s put together well, it’s easy to search and will surface the necessary information from a quick search, like Google or YouTube.

By leveraging a knowledge base for employee development, organizations can create a self-service environment where individuals can help themselves. That means they’re less likely to contact the service desk, and it’s easy to reduce employees’ hours wasted when someone can look up the information themselves.

With a well-structured knowledge base, employees no longer have to rely solely on formal training programs or seek assistance from colleagues for every question or problem they encounter.

While it doesn’t replace more formalized training (employees don’t know what they don’t know), it offers a great way for employees to support themselves after they acquire basic knowledge.

Instead, they can access the knowledge base to find answers quickly and independently. This not only saves time but also promotes autonomy and self-reliance among employees.

Designing an Interactive and User-Friendly Knowledge Base

An interactive and user-friendly knowledge base is essential for maximizing its effectiveness as a tool for continuous learning. When designing such a platform, it is crucial to consider the needs and preferences of the end-users – the employees.

First and foremost, the knowledge base should have a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. It should be organized logically, with clear categories and subcategories that make it effortless for employees to locate the necessary information.

While manual navigation isn’t likely to be used, it’s still important from a maintenance perspective. The most important part to get right is the search capability. If you take a knowledge base and put a PDF into it, that likely will defeat the purpose of the knowledge base. Now, all the content in that PDF is more difficult to search.

If a knowledge base isn’t easy to use with a comprehensive search, then it won’t be helpful.

Don’t bury information in a PDF unless the knowledge base platform reads and searches it. It’s ideal to create support material directly on the platform.

While building all support material directly in the platform is ideal, that’s not always possible. Sometimes, other types of content need to be used, including multimedia content such as videos, infographics, and even podcasts. Making this content searchable may require a more creative approach, such as including a text transcript embedded on the same page so it can be searchable.

Ensuring content shows up in searches is vital to the success of a knowledge base platform. Employees will stop trying if the search isn’t functional, and that defeats the continuous learning culture.

Encouraging Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

While a knowledge base is primarily a self-service resource, it should also encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees. By providing avenues for individuals to contribute their expertise and insights, organizations can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce.

One way to encourage employees to have a stake in the knowledge base game is to allow them to submit ideas and even content themselves. This should be reviewed before posting, but it’s an option. It would also be nice for internal systems if employees could leave comments and additional information about a helpful article.

Integrating Feedback Loops for Continuous Improvement

A successful continuous learning initiative requires ongoing evaluation and improvement. Organizations should establish feedback loops within their knowledge base to gather employee insights regarding its usefulness and effectiveness.

Feedback can be collected through surveys or rating systems integrated into the platform. Be careful with ratings and ensure more information is collected than stars. That doesn’t tell you much about what’s wrong if the content gets a low rating.

Feedback will help identify areas for improvement and provide valuable input on emerging training needs or gaps in existing resources. By regularly analyzing user feedback and making necessary adjustments, organizations can ensure that their knowledge base remains relevant and impactful.

Addressing Challenges and Overcoming Resistance to Change

Implementing a knowledge base for continuous learning may face challenges and employee resistance. It’s much easier to call a phone number and ask for help than to search for it.

It is essential to address employees’ concerns if they’re used to someone else helping them. The benefits of the knowledge base need to be communicated effectively, with an adjustment period/training accounted for.

One common challenge is the fear of job redundancy. Employees may worry that a knowledge base will replace their roles or make them less valuable. To overcome this resistance, organizations should emphasize that the knowledge base is a tool to enhance their skills and productivity, not replace them.

Don’t expect employees to change their behavior without a plan to usher in the change.

Ultimately, it may reduce the need for help desk employees, but there will be other places where those losses can be absorbed. Clear communication about how the knowledge base supports career growth and empowers employees can help alleviate these concerns.

Another challenge is ensuring that employees embrace the new system and actively use it. Organizations can overcome this by providing training on navigating and utilizing the knowledge base effectively. If the system is built correctly, the training could take the form of communication rather than comprehensive training.

Make sure there’s someone employees connect with and look up to who’s on board with the system. If management talks badly about it, then it’ll ultimately fail. Getting leaders on board will ultimately make or break the system and its effectiveness.

Using WordPress As an Employee or Consumer Knowledge Base

This one mostly applies to companies that want to provide customers with a valuable and searchable external knowledge base directly rather than internally only. While WordPress can be used internally, it would be best mostly for small companies as it may not scale well for thousands of knowledge base articles and approval/review processes.

WordPress is a cost-effective solution for building a high-quality knowledge base platform. It offers a user-friendly interface, customizable design options, and extensive plugin support, making it suitable for creating an employee—or consumer-focused knowledge base.

We built a platform for a small consumer-facing software company using WordPress. The help articles are searchable and rank in search engines to also help rank the content and tool in search engines. That means it increases discoverability online and helps users at the same time.

An example of a public knowledge base for a SaaS company.
A custom-facing WordPress-based knowledge base that has categories and is searchable.

With its vast library of plugins, WordPress allows for a knowledge base system that’s easy to use and manage and is a great content platform. While a WordPress-based knowledge base may not be scalable for a huge organization with thousands of articles, it’s more than sufficient for many small to medium-sized companies.

Larger organizations might use tools such as ServiceNow, which, while scalable, are not nearly as user-friendly.

Wrap Up

A continuous learning environment is essential for any business to survive. It ensures employees want to stick around and that they have the skills needed to work effectively.

A knowledge base is a great way to encourage a continuous learning mindset and give employees the resources to help themselves. With a thoughtful implementation of a knowledge-based platform on user-friendliness and the right help content, it can be a valuable resource that becomes the go-to source when employees need help.

Implementing a knowledge base requires careful planning, user-centric design, and ongoing evaluation. However, continuous learning benefits employees and is well worth the effort. By embracing continuous learning and investing in a robust knowledge base, organizations can boost technical competence, productivity, and innovation among their workforce.

Working with a corporate technical training company to build a knowledge base will effectively increase your workforce’s technical competence and productivity. Schedule a free consultation to discuss enabling your workforce and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement.

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