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Onboard employees faster with a central Glossary

Author:
Walter Tran
Chief Operating Officer
Holocentric

LinkedIn Profile

One of the biggest challenges for new employees to an organisation and/or industry is the number of terms, acronyms and abbreviations used during a normal workday. This doesn’t sound like a big deal because for most of us, we have forgotten how it feels to be ‘new’. Take a moment and try to remember how it felt for a second. 

New employees are less likely to ask for help for the fear of embarrassment, and despite the offer of help from existing employees, they want to show they can get up to speed fast. Even though your onboarding process helps with knowledge transfer, there may be opportunities for improvement. 

The volume of terms, acronyms and abbreviations that you could collect into an organisational-wide Glossary would be quite large (even in a smaller organisation). The benefits would easily outweigh the work to put it together and maintain. Here are some considerations: 

1. Central Location vs Terms List in every document
Simple maths here. Having one central organisational Glossary should be less work to maintain than a list of terms in individual documents. There may be cases where you need to persist with an 'in document' Terms List in legal contracts, but for everything else, having a centralised location would work. 

2. No more duplication or contradiction
Having a list of terms in individual documents means that over time the definitions may change, and in extreme cases, even contradict. This doesn't bad until you've been given the task to update a term that has been used and referenced in potentially hundreds of documents. Not only is this an unrewarding task, but it is also prone to manual error too. The risk of not updating all relevant documents is all too real and happens more than we would like to admit.

3. Link back to the central Glossary
Wikipedia has been conditioning internet users for years to click on hyperlinked text within web pages when there is something requiring further explanation. So, why are we still expecting users to manually search for a term in a glossary? With a centralised Glossary available on an intranet, you should be able to just reference the global location. This means that if the description of the Glossary is updated centrally, it only has to be done once. 

4. Share and publicise its existence
What's worse than having an out-of-date Glossary? One that no one looks at or knows where it is!
Promote that you have one and let other people contribute to it. Easily.

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