Don’t Lose Intellectual Property: Collaborate to preserve your collective brain trust


Intellectual Property (IP) retention has always been an important issue for organizations. And it’s becoming increasingly more important as Baby Boomers retire and Millennials take over the workforce. Adding to the issue is the younger demographic’s tendency to move from job to job quickly, with an average tenure of just around two years at any single workplace.

Any manager can tell you that high turnover, or even employees changing positions within a company, makes it difficult for an organization to capture and retain the background and knowledge necessary to deliver results. When employees leave and take their IP with them (or worse, they leave it behind but you can’t find it), productivity, and even revenue, can take a hit.

In fact, according to the Small Business Advisor, the cost of lost knowledge, skills and contacts the person leaving takes with them should be calculated around “50% of the person’s annual salary for one year of services, increasing each year of service by 10%.” There’s even a whole formula for calculating the dollar cost of loss productivity resulting from employee turnover – and the numbers aren’t pretty.

When an employee leaves, you’re suddenly left with huge gaps of knowledge, and transitioning the workload and responsibilities to someone new poses a problem because most often they can’t pick up right where the last person left off.

Before you panic, rest assured there are measures you can take to lessen the financial (and productivity) blow of losing employees and potential IP. Let’s take a look at four of the tools an enterprise social collaboration platform can bring to the table to empower your entire organization to protect your collective brain trust and IP.

1. Wikis and Blogs Make Employees Published Authors

Wikis and blogs enable any employee to type up and share information, organized by topic or “space.” Formulating and sharing information in a public forum not only allows more people to engage with it and be “in-the-know,” it also means a complete backlog of information by that “author” is available to anyone else in the company once that employee leaves.

2. Access for Everyone with Collaborative File Sharing

On a similar note, enterprise social collaboration platforms make it easy, and even necessary, for employees to share and collaborate on documents in a public forum. When you rely on email to send iterations of documents back and forth or on desktop folders to store them, you run the risk of never seeing that information again after an employee leaves. Collaborative file sharing and documentation means everything important is stored in a centralized location where everyone can work on and access it.

3. Enterprise Social Networking Leaves a Digital Trail

An important and core component of an enterprise social collaboration platform, enterprise social networking makes it ok, and even productive, to be social at work! Imagine a hybrid of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn functionalities that give you an easy way to provide status updates and get quick snapshots of what’s going on in your organization. News or status items can be posted publically, and you can choose who to specifically ‘tag.’

Enterprise social networking puts information out in the open, accessible to everyone, rather than confining it to email chains where only a few select people are included. This means that once an employee leaves, you can still scan previous posts to pull together important information or background on a project.

4. Find Specific IP with Intelligent Search

One feature that most enterprise social collaborations should have is the ability to intelligently search for any content ever posted. This will help you protect and retain IP, as it makes information easy discoverable and therefore useable. Incentive’s intelligent search, for example, takes your search keywords and scans every wiki, blog, comment, newsfeed update and document ever created or shared within your installation. This makes it much easier to search for IP that’s been left behind and is stored in your enterprise social collaboration platform.

While you can’t stop employees from moving on or reverse the growing trend of rapid job turnover, taking some steps to prepare yourself and get ahead of the curve can help. Enterprise social collaboration platforms more effectively capture knowledge, retain work and project background across multiple media in one easy-to-access place, enable faster onboarding and waste less time overall.

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