How to Retain the Knowledge of Your Top Talent

March 1st, 2013

The first wave of the baby boomer generation hit retirement age in 2011. Since the boomers make up approximately 25 percent of the IT workforce, according to recent research, potentially one quarter of your workforce could be nearing retirement age very soon. How can you make sure that valuable technical know-how and general institutional knowledge won’t walk out the door with them?

Look at it this way: your high-performing engineers, developers and other IT pros not only know all the details of your company’s architecture, applications and processes—they probably invented them! So if you don’t have one, a formal knowledge-management program will enable you to capture as much institutional information as possible from retiring workers.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds!

The first thing you’ll want to do is try to capture the institutional memory of those who will soon be retiring. Ask them about their special knowledge, if any, of products, services and/or customers.  See if they have any insight about work processes or workflow.

Next, set up some “shadowing” partnerships. Figure out which of your younger tech talent should spend extensive time with which departing employees, so they can learn critical information hands-on while the future retirees are still on the job. When such knowledge is transferred to the new employees, it’s easier to let the retiring employees go.

To further enhance cross training of process and performance functions, let employees trade roles on a temporary basis. And don’t assume that only those high up on the ladder have the most valuable knowledge. Knowledge transfer should take place at all levels.

You’ll also have to make sure you document the most important knowledge, to avoid creating a knowledge gap—because the transfer of knowledge should be accessible to everyone. Once processes and procedures are documented, it becomes easier for new employees to get up to speed more quickly, the corporate body of knowledge continues to grow, and employees will know how to tackle problems the first time instead of reinventing the wheel.

One more thing you may want to do: create an external resource. This could be a Knowledge-Base website or product forums where both company employees and customers can share their knowledge and experiences.

And if your retiring employees leave you in need of replacements? Call the hiring experts at Synerfac. We’ll find you the people with the right combination of skills and personality to keep your organization running smoothly!

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