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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Dr Sarah-Jane Cullinane is an Assistant Professor in HRM and Organisational Behaviour in Trinity Business School in Trinity College Dublin. She completed her PhD in Dublin City University Business School and holds a BA in Sociology and Psychology from University College Cork and a MBS in Human Resource Management from Dublin City University. Her research interests lie primarily in the area of employee well-being at work (e.g. work engagement, burnout and workaholism), and her research explores how jobs are designed by managers and crafted by employees to promote the quality of working life across both the public and private sectors. Find out more about Sarah-Jane here.

Many traditional theories of HRM viewed “knowledge workers” as a separate, more elite group of workers who possess high human capital uniqueness and value, and are therefore irreplaceable. This separation of employees is somewhat dissolving as the proportion of “knowledge workers” in Ireland steadily increases, with upskilling initiatives from Government and the automation of low-skilled roles. With the rapid development of new learning technologies, many organisations are embracing knowledge management initiatives such as online collaboration and mobile tools, and game-based learning technologies. However, it can be difficult for HR practitioners in Ireland, particularly those who have been restricted with Learning and Development budget cuts, to know where to start. With this in mind, and putting the technological advances to the side for a moment, it is important to remind ourselves what motivates people to develop and share their knowledge in the first place.

Here are some starting points to consider for building a culture of knowledge sharing:


Recruit and select people whose values and attitudes fit with the values of knowledge-sharing and collegiality


Support an organisational culture where knowledge-sharing is the norm and where people’s knowledge-sharing efforts are well supported


Design jobs that are challenging and fulfilling, where employees have opportunity to use their skills and continuously develop. There is little motivation for people to acquire new skills for their job if they do not have the autonomy to use them.[i]


Develop social capital between colleagues. Utilise team-based working where possible, and encourage the development of communities of practice.


Reassess your rewards and performance management systems. If rewards and promotion criteria are solely based upon individual achievement, competition is encouraged and knowledge-sharing is discouraged.


[i] Read Dr Cullinane’s article “Crafting the Ideal Fit: How Job Crafting can help Employees find Meaning in their Work”, also on our blog. Available here.

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