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3 Reasons No One Reads Your Company Documents

So you know that company knowledge is a competitive asset. But no one seems to be reading the important company documents you've been producing. Frustrating, isn't it? Don't worry; you're not alone.

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So you know that company knowledge is a competitive asset.

But no one seems to be reading the important company documents you’ve been producing. Frustrating, isn’t it? 

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. 

In fact, a study conducted by Dynamic Signal, titled “The State of Workplace Communications and Employee Engagement 2021,” polled 1,000 US-based workers across various industries and job functions and found that a staggering 80% of employees report feeling overwhelmed by information at work.

And 96% say they struggle to find the information they need to do their jobs effectively!

With so much information (not to mention Instagram posts) vying for our attention, it’s no wonder that your carefully crafted company documents might be going unread.

Reasons why no one cares about your company documents

1. Your company documentation boring

Even if a document is relevant, it may still go unread if it’s presented in a confusing, unappealing, or hard-to-find format. Or perhaps it’s just plain boring.

If employees have to sift through long blocks of text, inconsistent formatting, or buried links to find the information they need, they’ll likely give up before they get to the end.

2. No one knows it exists

It’s possible that employees simply aren’t aware that the document exists. If the document is buried in an email thread or saved in an obscure folder on the company’s intranet, it may be overlooked even by employees who would benefit from reading it. 

In some cases, employees may not even know that a certain type of document (such as a company policy or best practice guide) is available to them.

3. The Forgetting curve

Some studies suggest that humans forget approx 50% of new information within an hour of learning it. That goes up to an average of 70% within 24 hours.

Even if employees read a document and understand its contents, they may not remember or act on the information if there’s no follow-up or reinforcement. For example, if a new company policy is introduced in a document but never mentioned again, employees may forget the policy or revert to old habits. Providing ongoing reminders, training, or opportunities to practice the information in the document can help ensure that it sticks.

How to get your company documents read and followed?

Think "The Netflix Effect"

The “Netflix effect” is a term used to describe the impact that the popular streaming service Netflix has had on the entertainment industry and consumer behavior.

Some of the key features of the Netflix effect include:

  • Binge-watching: The ability to watch entire seasons or series of shows in one sitting has led to the rise of binge-watching culture.
  • Disruption of traditional TV: Netflix has disrupted the traditional television industry, offering an alternative to cable TV with on-demand streaming content.
  • Original content: The success of Netflix’s original content, such as “Stranger Things” and “Orange is the New Black,” has inspired other streaming services to create their own original content.
  • Global reach: Netflix has expanded its reach to over 190 countries, bringing its content to a global audience.

Well, that’s easy if you’re creating for entertainment, you say but what about company documents?

It doesn’t have to be difficult to create engaging company documentation. 

Use video? Make it fun? Hire professional stand-up comedians just like British Airways did to get people to take note of their safety notices (you know, the same one’s you and I ignore?)

Reward knowledge

What if you reward your team members for their knowledge? After all, knowledge is a competitive asset in this day and age.

Try setting up a system where team members who can demonstrate their knowledge of the company documentation through a quiz or test receive a gift card or voucher as a reward. This incentivizes employees to take the time to read and retain information from the documentation and provides a tangible reward for their efforts.

OR reward team members through recognition and praise. A simple thank you note or shoutout during a team meeting, or email can go a long way in acknowledging and rewarding employees for their hard work. Recognition not only encourages team members to continue to read and retain information, but it also fosters a positive and supportive work environment.

And yes, you know we love Karma for this!

Bring it to the people

You can’t expect people to go and have to look for information. It’s ‘counter human’. You need to find ways to bring information to your teams in the apps in which they work. In other words, surface knowledge when and where your team needs it. Slack and Whale are great examples of this.

Ditch your outdated process documents and manuals, and set your team up for success with modern training experiences.

Whale’s Chrome extension means that team members don’t need to leave the apps in which they’re working to find what they need

Bottom line?

The bottom line impact for a company of having unread documents is significant. When employees are unable to access or engage with important information, it can lead to decreased productivity, miscommunication, and even legal or regulatory compliance issues. 

Additionally, if employees are not aware of company policies or best practices, it can create a culture of inconsistency and confusion that can harm the company’s reputation and bottom line. 

Conversely, when company documents are well-crafted and effectively disseminated, they can improve employee morale, drive innovation, and ultimately contribute to a more successful and profitable business.

Whether your team members are remote or on-site or a mix of both, your company processes and documentation should be;

✅ Entertaining or at the very least, a pleasure to read

✅ Properly named

✅ Organized and easy to find

✅ Easy to understand

✅ Constantly reviewed for improvement

If you want your company documents to be read and valued, you need to make them relevant, visually appealing, easy to find, and memorable. 

By taking the time to understand your employees’ needs and preferences (just like a great marketer would), and by using the right tools and strategies, you can ensure that your documents stand out from the deluge of information competing for attention in the workplace. 

Don’t let your hard work go to waste – start creating documents that your employees will actually want to read and use today!

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