Knowledge workers in today’s world go by many names. You may know them as knowledge entrepreneurs, thought leaders, or as human capital. Regardless of what term you're familiar with, these workers have become the fastest growing sector of the workforce. In our latest mini blog series, we aim to introduce you to some powerful business concepts surrounding the knowledge society.
What is a Knowledge Worker?
Peter Drucker, the management writer who coined the term “knowledge worker”, defines them as "high level employees who apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through formal education, to develop new products or services". Knowledge workers are those who acquire, manipulate, interpret, and apply information, which allows them to perform multidisciplinary, complex and oftentimes unpredictable work.
They analyze information and apply expertise in a variety of different areas to solve problems, generate new and innovative ideas, or help create new products and services for their business. A knowledge worker could be anyone from a working business professional to an educator or information system designers. Knowledge work is mostly characterized by the use of information, unique, work situations, and on the fly creativity.
Knowledge workers focuses on mental aptitude, and make decisions and work with ideas. Knowledge workers come with and utilize different methods and techniques to solve problems and have the authority to decide what work methods to use in order to complete their varying job tasks.
What are the characteristics of a knowledge worker?
A knowledge worker must possess a combination of both factual and theoretical knowledge. They must must be able to find, access, recall, and apply information. Then, they must take that information and be able to utilize it to solve on the job problems, generate innovative ideas, and complete tasks. They must know how to communicate effectively, be motivated to continuously improve, and have the mindset to go to certain lengths to acquire all of the above skills.
How do I help my Knowledge Workers be more productive?
Now more than ever, Knowledge worker productivity influences success in today's increasingly competitive work economy, and businesses are focusing on increasing this productivity.
It is the job of management to facilitate the knowledge worker's job performance by providing them access to relevant information, and a more collaborative working environment that promotes the best use of this information. This will help support and promote ongoing learning, and having the proper systems in place will significantly reduce the amount of time knowledge workers spend trying to find and access information.
Information technology is important for the continued productivity of the knowledge worker because it helps make information accessible and manageable in a time when ease of accessibility is crucial. The right tools and software should be designed to reduce the amount of time employees spend on either looking for or trying to access information.
Ongoing education of these knowledge workers will also further contribute to making them more productive. In order to improve productivity, employers will need to figure out how to not only promote teamwork among knowledge workers, but be able to create more collaborative working environments, and be able to keep knowledge workers from becoming overwhelmed with all of the information they need to do their jobs.
To do this, the use of the proper information technology will be key in helping these workers manage and manipulate information. Employees will need to find ways to both fund these technologies and provide training on their use.
Proper use of these technologies will increase knowledge worker productivity and performance, and allow for the best possible environment for knowledge workers to easily find, engage with, process, and create information.