I don’t know about you, but the closer it gets to the holidays, the stronger the urge to bake becomes.
Last week the urge was particularly strong, as was my hankering for ginger cookies. So, I pulled out my tablet and my tablespoons and I Googled a recipe. In just over half a second I had 76.7 million results! (More than enough information to get the job done.)
And presto! In less than 30 minutes from when the craving struck, I was pulling the first batch of cookies out of the oven. (In case you were wondering, they were delicious.)
Good search is hard to find
We know searching for information can be easy as pie (or cookies). Why, then, is searching at work So. Much. WORK?
There’s no shortage of research that highlights just how hard it is to find information at work. I’m sure by now we’ve all come across the infamous McKinsey report that says employees spend 1.8 hours every day looking for information (been there!), the stat that it takes employees at large companies 38 minutes to find a document (done that), or even this recent report that found office employees spend more time searching for files than on work. (Yikes. If that doesn’t land you on the Naughty List, I don’t know what will!)
When it comes down to it, it takes you less time to satisfy a craving for fresh ginger cookies from scratch than it does to find a document at work. Unbelievable! Right? What’s even more unbelievable is that employees have come to accept that’s the way the cookie crumbles. (Not my cookies of course. They were soft and chewy.) But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be that way.
So, what does it take to make searching for information at work more Google-like?
1. Make it easy to find 🔍
For starters, people need to know where to look. When content is scattered across multiple locations, what should be a simple search turns into a time-consuming quest. Storing information in one place means employees know exactly where to go for information. So, even if they’re not exactly sure what they’re looking for, at least they know they’re in the right place. Keeping all your content in one place also makes it easier for your L&D teams to monitor and manage training content.
2. Make it easy to filter 🗂
Ok. So your employees know where to go. But if you’re storing ALL your information in the same place, finding that one piece can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Now you need to make your content discoverable. Applying searchable fields, like titles, channels, categories, descriptions, file format, keywords, and other tags, makes it quick and easy for employees to filter and find relevant content.
Most Learning Management Systems (LMSs) have some basic functionality that allows you to do this, but it’s usually pretty manual. More advanced, AI-powered platforms will automatically tag material (like training content and social learning assets) to enhance the learning experience while simplifying the admin experience.
3. Make sure it’s helpful 👍
More isn’t necessarily better. (Case in point: 76 million results for my ginger cookie search.) In the same way the ratings helped me pick which recipe to use, a little bit of learner feedback can go a long way to indicating the quality of content. Stars, ratings, likes and dislikes, and especially comments, are all great ways to help employees determine which search results will be the most helpful.
Take the work out of searching at work
Centralizing content is a big part of improving the search experience. But just because everything should live in one place, that doesn’t mean it all has to come from the same place (namely, your organization—that’s just not tenable).
In a perfect world, you’d have the in-house expertise and resources to develop all the content your employees could possibly ever need (or want) to know. And that content, of course, would live in your hub. But this world is far from perfect. (Unlike my cookies 😂.) And in this imperfect world, people leverage external resources for information—whether it’s their favorite podcasts, trusted websites, or go-to wiki or forum. Many of these resources are instrumental in helping your employees perform in their roles, develop new skills, grow, and succeed.
Chances are, if one employee finds those resources helpful, others will too. Now imagine if you could share those helpful external resources internally, across your organization. Not only could you limit the amount of searching employees need to do, but you could also support their growth and your organization’s goals. (Sounds pretty win-win-win to me.)
Curate and categorize content with AI
You’re probably thinking, “That sounds great. But who has the time to curate and categorize All. That. Content?” (Truthfully? No one.) The question isn’t who, but rather what? And you know what has time for that? AI. An AI-powered LMS can do the work for you by scouring the internet for helpful resources that cater to your employees specific interests and needs (or based on what you tell it to), bringing those resources into your hub so they’re easy to find, and automatically tagging it (which, if you recall, adds context and makes it easy to filter for relevant content). In other words, AI curates and categorizes content for you.
Your search for the perfect gift is over 🎁
The ability to search may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference in your organization. (The time savings alone are huge!) But making content more discoverable does more than just save time. It makes your employees’ jobs easier. It creates new opportunities to grow and develop. And it improves the learning experience. Which, if you ask me, is the best gift of all. (Definitely better than socks.🧦 )