It's not only the times, but also the age and the character of the work force that is "a-changin" these days. Faster than ever before. And that is contributing to some hard times for companies that haven't figured out an effective business strategy to tap into the knowledge that departing 'Boomers' possess.
Tapping into that expertise is, however, of no value if the skills and insights aren't passed on to new workers.
And therein lies the problem.
The Numbers Tell the Story
Baby boomers are retiring and leaving the workforce at a rate of 10,000 a day. Taking their place, in most companies, are Millennials who are relatively new in the business, no matter what the business is. If those newly responsible for day-to-day operations and overall profitability haven't mastered the basics, what is the likely result?
That's right -- if not disaster, then perhaps chaos, stagnant growth, diminished profits, loss of market share, a downward spiral. No matter what the outcome, it would simply be easier all around if there had been a company culture to encourage and ensure the pass-along of the company's collective knowledge.
Brain Drain can be prevented. It just requires advance business strategy planning.
The truth is that is not only pending retirements derail a company's success train. Unless you have in place some sophisticated backup procedures or redundant systems, you might face minor crises every time an employee goes on vacation or takes a sick day.
We understand, and we offer some easy-to-implement ideas to help to over the rough spots.
Closing the Skills Gap
Some employees are born teachers; others balk at any mention of training efforts to benefit newer workers. Passing along knowledge, procedures and proven methods must be choreographed and the methods must be comprehensive if they are to be of lasting benefit. Luckily, a variety of strategies exist:
- Use technology to advantage: Rely on video or voice memos to "capture the experience and intelligence of your staff." Make the information readily available and easily accessible. The smart phone or personal tablet can become your best friend, an invaluable training tool.
- Develop an extensive "content library," not only for in-house use, but so your associates and clients can access and benefit from the collective knowledge and expertise of your staff. Use all the digital tools at your disposal; expand into new areas. Mine social media. This is where your Millennial new hires can, no doubt, shine. Allow them to teach you what they know instinctively.
- Document, document, document. Then brainstorm, evaluate, discuss, assess and refine everything you do in your daily operations. Develop checklists. Constant feedback and ongoing strategizing is not meant to reinvent any wheels, but rather to keep the wheels greased and rolling along.
A Continuing Process
While an "exit interview" may be standard practice in many industries when an employee gives notice, what we see as a practical antidote to human capital flight is an ongoing process designed to capture the knowledge and skills of your existing employees, to preserve and share that competence, and to foster a cooperative atmosphere grounded in respect throughout the workplace.
When the current crop of Baby Boomers leaves the workforce, we are told, the need to tap into existing knowledge and skills will become even more critical. Statistics point to increasing turnover rates in the future, with average job tenure dropping to just over four years in 2008. Many of your Millennial new hires hold job expectations of three years or less. Without a plan for effective knowledge transfer, there will be havoc.
Give Up 'Old Fashioned'
While your company may honor "old fashioned" principles of service, honesty and integrity, this is the time to set in motion the steps to assure that the accumulated wisdom of your firm is not lost, but rather is continually transmitted to incoming and enthusiastic individuals.
If we can help in any way, we stand ready to do so, and we look forward to an exciting new cycle of success.