The Importance of Internal Knowledge Bases for Business Onboarding and Offboarding

No matter how successful your business may be, you always have to account for the inevitability of having to bring on new people, and seeing old ones go. This does not necessarily meant that something is wrong with your business or how it is operating, and it’s always good to see the company changing rather than stagnating. 

But while this may be a valuable process in its own right, it can get quite messy if you do not set things up properly. Knowledge gets lost when veterans leave, and its not always easy to transfer all that experience and expertise to new hires. One of the best ways to do that is to have an internal knowledge base for both onboarding and offboarding.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is a collection of information curated to help your employees, your customers, or both. This can be used to help train new hires, among other things.

Think of it as a Wikipedia, but for your business. When employees have questions, they can simply refer to the knowledge base for information. Similarly, they can contribute their own knowledge and expertise to the body of information.

What can an internal knowledge base do for onboarding?

A knowledge base, whether external or internal, can make the transition process of onboarding and offboarding a lot easier for everyone involved. There’s few things worse than having a new hire come on, only for them to be left high and dry. There are two ways you can get this set up: using an external knowledge base or using an internal knowledge base.

Once a knowledge base has been developed, the next step is to see how effective it really is. This means having the base looked over to a reasonable degree, both with your eyes and the people who made the base. Make sure that you do not leave out any important information, as even one major detail left out can make the onboarding process that much more difficult for the trainers and trainees alike.

As far as outboarding goes, having a knowledge base is not quite as important, but it does make things easier for them if they are on the way out. That is, assuming they are taking on responsibilities to assist in training new people, having that knowledge base is helpful. A lot of this stuff is already well known to you, but being able to recount it and explain it directly from the knowledge base makes things easier for everyone involved. Using a knowledge base to help with both the onboarding and offboarding processes helps a lot.

Another benefit of having a knowledge base is that it reduces the risk of an outbound employee deciding that they do not want to, or are unable to leave behind the information they have accrued over their time working there. For example, if an employee does not tell you the login information of a certain account, you will have to waste some time retrieving the information. Basically, you should encourage your employees to add vital information to the knowledge base, thereby making it a more useful tool than it currently is.

Of course, a knowledge base is valuable for far more than just your workers’ accommodations. Instead, a lot of companies have a knowledge base specifically designed to help customers track down the information they need. By having a solid knowledge base that your customers may access, you help them without having to connect them to live help (at least, not right away). And if they end up needing to ask for help, they are more than welcome and able to do so.

Because the process is so streamlined and efficient, this means that you will ultimately see your employees more quickly able to figure out how something works (or some other kind of information) and execute it. And as things change, the information can be easily upgraded. Get used to keeping this information upgraded too.

What kind of information is included in a knowledge base?

When you use a knowledge base, you have to account for a lot of other questions people may need answered, both customer and staff. A number of things may seem trivial in the knowledge base, though even some of those apparently trivial details may prove to be vital for your new employees to feel comfortable with your business’ culture. By teaching new employees how your company’s culture and structure works, you help them realize whether they may fit in with this company’s culture.

Another aspect worth including can be employee rules and HR matters. For example, some of the common concerns of employees involve leaves for issues like pregnancies or menstrual cramps. Others can be the dress code and overtime. 

Other things that can be included in the knowledge base are:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Training materials
  • Processes
  • Best practices
  • FAQs
  • Troubleshooting

Are knowledge bases actually effective?

When you are setting up a knowledge base, one question that may hang over your head is whether using a knowledge base actually helps you in any way. Well, if you really want to set up this knowledge base, the good news is that people who have experience with knowledge bases are pretty satisfied with their decision more often than not.

Do all companies need an internal knowledge base to succeed?

A lot of marketing articles tend to take a very absolutist perspective, often proclaiming in no uncertain terms that you need to use this thing. Doesn’t matter how small you and your company are, there is apparently a one-size-fits-all approach here. While it can often be helpful, even for smaller businesses, not all businesses are capable of fully taking advantage (or in fact needing to do so). Just use your best judgment.

Feature image by Pixabay

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