January 5, 2018
Written by Rachel Alexander
We all knew this time would come. Seventy-six million baby boomers are on the verge of retirement or have already done so. Pew Research Institute estimates that as many as 10,000 baby boomers are leaving the workforce each day. And they’re taking the years of knowledge and expertise they acquired with them.
That is unless your organization has a system in place to retain the powerful company knowledge that lives in the brains of your company’s aging workforce. When you operate under the assumption that a new hire will quickly be capable of filling the shoes of their predecessor, you risk losing critical company information, protocol, strategies, time, and money. Why leave it up to chance?
Follow these four knowledge sharing tips to avoid brain drain as baby boomers leave the workforce:
1. Assess Potential Knowledge Loss
Just because an employee is nearing retirement age does not necessarily mean that individual is an expert in their field or possesses knowledge and practices that you wish to impart on future new hires. Before you begin to develop a strategy for knowledge retention, you must understand the role of your employees and this goes beyond just their day to day duties. Which veterans have been invaluable to your business? Which employees would you like new hires to imitate for years to come? Identify key players and use this information to build succession plans and create a strategy to fill the gaps in company knowledge.
2. Build A Mentoring Program
It’s worth your while to invest time and money into training and onboarding new hires. But don’t neglect the young talent you already have. Making an investment in continuously developing the skills and knowledge of younger employees might have an even greater ROI than onboarding new hires; they are already familiar with your company and possess a strong foundation to build upon. A mentoring program is a great way to ensure knowledge is not lost when veterans retire and to improve the performance of current employees. Match younger employees with a mentor (a veteran employee that you identify as an expert), so when the time comes for that mentor to start a new chapter in their life, their knowledge doesn’t go with them.
3. Create A Culture of Transparency And Accountability
Veterans are not likely to share the expertise they spent decades developing if your company culture is one of competition and personal success at the expense of collaboration. And who could blame them? But if your company culture is one of transparency and accountability, employees will be more willing to share knowledge and collaborate with others for the good of the company.
How do you achieve such a culture? Reward collaboration publicly and frequently. Be sure executives and other team leaders are practicing what they preach and leading by example. Hold brainstorming meetings and encourage everyone, from the newest hire to the longest veteran, to contribute thoughts and ideas.
4. Invest In Knowledge Sharing Technology
All the mentoring, collaboration and documentation in the world won’t save your organization from brain drain if you don’t have an organized, accessible location to store this information. A knowledge sharing platform provides a single space to store all of the valuable knowledge gained by workforce veterans. Harness critical information in the form of searchable documents, videos, manuals, and Q&A so everyone can benefit from the expertise of more tenured employees for years to come.
The aging workforce is an inevitable reality. Employees have retired since the beginning of time, and they will continue to do so until the end of time. But how you handle the procession of company knowledge is up to you. Follow these knowledge sharing best practices to ensure the expertise of your tenured employees is not lost or forgotten.
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