Why is an HR knowledge management solution a critical technology to put in place? Because from insurance and benefits information to company policies, onboarding and beyond, human resource (HR) organizations are the keepers of some of a company’s most vital information — information employees often need to access.  

Without the right HR knowledge management solution in place, dispersing it and answering questions can take up an inordinate amount of an HR team’s time. That pushes more critical tasks down the to-do list. 

Provisioning an HR knowledge management solution is a great way for HR teams to recapture some of that precious time by making it simple and easy for employees to find — by themselves — the information and answers they’re after. When the right HR knowledge management solution is fully implemented and used wisely, HR teams will wonder how they ever operated without one. 

What is HR knowledge management? 

HR knowledge management is the practice of centralizing all HR documents, policies, information and knowledge and making that vital information easy for anyone in the company to access and update from anywhere. 

The key to this central repository is that it allows employees — regardless of department, location or tenure — to quickly access the HR information they need via a 24/7 self-service portal. This reduces frustration for employees, the chance of getting outdated or erroneous information and the workload for HR staff, who no longer have to answer the same questions over and over (and over!) again. 

Why is HR knowledge management important? 

While it may seem like information decentralization isn’t that big a deal, when spread across an entire organization, it can have a major impact. A study on workplace knowledge and productivity found that 60% of employees spend five hours or more per week waiting for information from others.  

With HR being a major source of vital information for employees across an organization, HR knowledge management is an easy way to reduce that bottleneck. 

In today’s business world, human resource management is often about finding the right answer to important questions quickly. HR knowledge management solutions are a simple, effective, streamlined answer to that growing challenge. 

Related: Explore Ivanti Neurons for HR 

8 key examples of knowledge management in HR 

Easy-to-access, up-to-date information that employees can find by themselves may be enough of an incentive for some organizations to adopt HR knowledge management. But smart ones realize both hard and soft additional benefits from a well-implemented solution. 

1. Enforce role-based access controls 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 they might access information not meant for them. How can you mitigate this issue? By implementing proper permissions and role-based access controls.  

This is important from a practical business perspective; 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. 

Customized permissions are particularly important for organizations with a large geographic footprint. Some information may need localization based on state or country laws and regulations. In these situations, you’ll want to ensure that employees at each location have fast, easy and clear access to the right information. If they access (or worse, are sent) the wrong document, it can have a very real negative impact on the business. 

The ability to implement role-based access controls and customized permissions reduces the chance of an employee receiving the wrong information. By automating the process, you’re also sparing HR employees the drudgery of repeatedly having to track down documents. And you’re spared the labor costs they consume doing it. 

2. Improve onboarding of 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 a 1,000-person organization. And as organizations grow, so does that cost. 

Moving employee onboarding to an HR knowledge management platform makes it easy for HR to add new information and update existing data and documents as needed. It also gives the employee a simple way to access the information they need at any time — even months after their start date, by which time a traditional onboarding packet may have been lost.  

Moreover, by having new employees access onboarding information via the same portal they’ll use in the future to retrieve organizational and HR knowledge, you’re getting them familiarized with this vital self-serve tool.

That, in turn, will satisfy their growing desire for DIY HR tools: a Paychex survey found that 73% of US employees wanted self-service HR options — and that was even before the pandemic and the explosion in Everywhere Work. 

By simplifying the HR portion of new employee onboarding, organizations can improve the employee experience, reduce onboarding time and minimize onboarding inefficiency costs. 

3. 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. 

A well-organized HR knowledge management solution makes it easy for teams (even dispersed ones) to know exactly what exists and what really needs to be created. Even if a new document or policy does need to be created, teams may be able to minimize effort and time by working off an existing document rather than creating something entirely from scratch. In many cases, the knowledge and framework are already there; certain aspects may simply need to be tweaked or updated. 

4. Get the information you need faster (and with fewer headaches) 

There’s little in the corporate world more frustrating than asking a question and then having to wait for an answer. But more often than not, it’s a matter of you asking the question, waiting, sending a reminder, waiting some more and so on. With one HR team servicing an entire organization, simple questions easily get lost in the daily grind, leaving the employee waiting.  

An HR knowledge management system removes this annoyance almost entirely. With good platform organization and proper role-based access controls in place, all employees can get the information they’re seeking faster and more easily without having to wait on HR. For human resource employees, this means a lot less time answering questions and seeking out the right documents. 

Dispersed HR teams will also find it easier to get the information they need when a knowledge management solution is in place. Need to create an office-specific policy? You can quickly see what other locations have done or reference a corporate policy to ensure you’re in line with the broader organization … without having to send a dozen emails to collect all the information you need. 

5. Make fewer mistakes 

Clear, consistent documentation that’s accessible in a centralized location limits the risk of mixed messages and miscommunicated information. It’s critical that all employees are working with the most up-to-date information, policies and documents.  

That can be hard to execute when updated documents sit with individuals without a fast, reliable way to share the information throughout the entire organization. Without a well-maintained HR knowledge management platform, issues are bound to occur (especially if you rely on something as impermanent as email to distribute updates). 

Up-to-date access becomes more critical and more challenging with living documents that are regularly updated. Not all HR information is in the form of an official policy that’s revisited once a year. It may be a general document that answers common questions or outlines company practices. These are typically living documents that grow as employees ask new questions or make new mistakes.  

Having this information documented, widely shared and easily accessible not only saves time, but can also help prevent issues and mistakes from being repeated in different departments or locations.  

6. Make informed decisions faster 

HR knowledge management solutions aren’t just libraries. When used to their fullest potential, they can offer valuable insights into organizational health and potential risks. Having visibility into when assets were last updated will help HR teams track which documents or policies may need to be reviewed for updating.  

Looking at other metrics, such as which department accessed the knowledge management system most (or least) and which files are most viewed, can tell HR teams where additional training or clarification may be needed. Having a knowledge management system that lets employees ask questions or seek clarification within the same portal further streamlines the HR information process and can give teams insight into missing or confusing information. 

Having easy access to data-based information allows HR teams to more accurately plan future documentation and updates in a way that will truly benefit the organization. It can also help teams proactively address potential trouble areas rather than just reactively wrangling an issue that’s already raised its head. 

7. Standardize processes 

HR knowledge management platforms can function as a single source of truth. Making the same information easily available to everyone lowers the chance of mistakes, lessens miscommunications and shortens timelines for getting answers and information. It also standardizes the process of information gathering, allowing employees to move forward quickly and in line with corporate expectations.  

Without a standard process for retrieving HR answers from a single knowledge center, organizations run the risk of different employees getting different answers to the same question. You can imagine the chaos that could create, especially if it’s about a sensitive topic. 

When organizations enforce the expectation that employees should access the HR knowledge management system to answer questions before asking HR, that process will become ingrained in the company culture, making HR’s job a little bit easier. 

8. Provide better service to employees 

We live in an on-demand, get-it-now world. Saying “there’s an app for that” has become an everyday joke, but that’s because it’s also a truism; people expect to be able to get any information they want at any time, without delay. That includes answers to their questions at work, particularly about aspects like benefits, insurance, vacation time, company holidays, 401ks, et cetera. 

Centralized HR knowledge management feeds into the way people are used to accessing information. Enabling employees to quickly and easily get answers themselves without waiting for an emailed reply creates a better overall experience. This not only increases employee morale, but can also improve productivity as employees can quickly find an answer and move on instead of dwelling on their questions — potentially for days. 

Ivanti Neurons for HR: Extending Service Management to Human Resources

It isn’t enough to know HR knowledge management is important 

Constant changes in guidelines and policies, combined with a variety of employee requests and expectations, are making the blend of hybrid, remote and in-office work complicated – with limitless possibilities for logistical headaches and security challenges. 

Luckily, automated and intuitive tools can help smooth and optimize processes, and self-service solutions allow for improved employee experience, while innovative technologies deliver more context and insights about team performance and bandwidth.  

HR knowledge management can power the employee self-service portal, supporting smart HR operations with an always-current source of information with the ability to filters employees’ requests for personalized retrieval — by employee status, geography, location and role — so they receive only the information relevant to them. This helps keep employees on the fast track, while making redundant problem solving a thing of the past. 

Finding the right HR knowledge management solution 

Successful HR knowledge management platforms are highly sophisticated solutions that provide most, if not all, of the capabilities an HR team will need right out of the box. Or they offer plugins, customizations and APIs to meet HR’s precise needs.  

Instead of spending precious time and resources building a basic portal in-house, team up with a proven service provider who already understands how a great HR knowledge management platform should work.