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Time wasted because of corporate amnesia

Time is lost searching for information needed to complete work, which may have been lost when knowledgeable staff left

UK knowledge workers spend more than a quarter (26%) of their average working time searching for information needed to complete projects, according to a report from Jive Software.

The survey of 420 UK knowledge workers – defined as those who handle information as part of their job – found that just under half (47%) view ‘corporate amnesia’ as a problem in their business.

John Schneider, vice president of product marketing at Jive Software, outlined the problem. “Corporate amnesia might occur when the people who hold key information in a business move on, taking that knowledge with them,” he told HR magazine. “They might be the only person who knows how a system works, for example, or the only one who holds a key piece of information.

“It can also be the result of information overload. There’s just so much information it’s a struggle to find what is needed at the right time.”

The report cited research that found corporate memory loss costs companies an estimated £354,000 per employee, on top of recruitment costs when someone moves on.

Technology was also found to be a barrier when it came to accessing information quickly. Almost seven in 10 (69%) of those polled use applications provided by their company to search for corporate info, with email-based search being the most used (42%).

However, a third (34%) said they often feel overwhelmed by the number of work emails they receive on a daily basis.

Elisa Steele, CEO of Jive Software, said employers should have a plan in place to limit the damage caused by corporate amnesia. “Corporate amnesia becomes a problem when organisations fail to put their most valuable asset, their people, at the centre of their digital transformation,” she said. “Without an effective solution to document, categorise, share and access the ever-growing mountain of information being accumulated globally businesses risk collapsing under the weight.

“What’s worse; far more organisations are experiencing the detrimental side effects of institutional knowledge loss than is being reported by employees – this is just the tip of the iceberg.”