Knowledge leak happens when departments shrink or employees move on, and relying on oral tradition compounds the problem. Companies need to take advantage of informal training methods to retain internal information.

(a version of this post was published in

Today’s workforce is mainly comprised of three generations, and each one thinks their method of working is most effective. For older professionals who have been working successfully for years, it can be hard for them to understand that some of their methods need to be adapted to keep up with the rapid pace of change in today’s workforce.

Gone are the days of simple manuals or long form training classes that so many employees utilized in years past. For the modern business today, the knowledge of its employees is a huge asset and must be transferred through the organization in a more efficient, informal way. Otherwise, you risk leaking that knowledge when departments shrink or employees leave the company.

Unclog the Flow of Information

A recent survey conducted by my company, Braidio, found that only 35 percent of employees share critical knowledge that they learn on the job in a formal system. It gets worse as employees get older, with only 26 percent of those ages 45 to 54 and 23 percent of those 55 and older sharing those learnings with their peers.

This is a massive leak of knowledge and speaks volumes about today’s learning systems’ ability to capture knowledge from an organization. The source of the leak is in plain sight as information is getting trapped daily in employee and customer end-points within the company-customer service network. It rarely finds its way back to the central learning management system and in turn the rest of the workforce, and becomes forgotten.

…only 35 percent of employees share critical knowledge that they learn on the job in a formal system.

Prioritize Informal Learning

This loss of knowledge can cause major delays in the solving of problems on the edge (customer facing side) of the business, driving up costs and increasing turnover. And yet corporations still focus most of their training budgets on formal learning, which has been proven to be highly ineffective for older employees, wasting over one million dollars annually. The solution is simple: learning in the company needs to be socialized to allow for better circulation between all the corners of a business.

Eighty percent of all learning is informal, and a social system is the best way to capture and integrate solutions into a central learning hub. Peer-to-peer learning is one of the most effective ways to spread knowledge throughout an organization, and while it still happens in formal systems, they are not nearly efficient enough to spread among the rest of the company. Instead of one employee teaching another, that one employee can teach the whole department and even the whole company in a socialized system.

Promote Active Workflow Listening

One of the main benefits of a social learning system is how easy it makes active workflow listening. Our survey also discovered that only 35 percent of workers are aware the power of active workflow listening is available to deliver a solution when they need it in their daily workflow. Companies need to look to the future and realize that number needs to grow to prevent leakage of intellectual capital. Getting out of the customer care workflow for formal training is just not an option, and this problem only compounds when departments shrink or employees move on.

The business landscape is changing every day, and with that change needs to come adaptation. Organizations need to be reconstructed to allow information to pass through all levels of employees, resistance free. Problems that arise on the edge of business cannot be solved effectively from the top down. Antiquated and formal systems can no longer produce the solutions necessary to solve the complex problems that arise for modern employees. Companies must empower their workforce by allowing them to collaborate and spread their knowledge to peers and even their managers.