Compensation Toolkit: Don’t Let Vital Expertise Just Walk Out the Door

by Carey Klosterman on September 25, 2017

in Compensation Toolkit

Fuga dei cervelli

The ever dreaded “brain drain” may be upon you. A long-time employee who has contributed so much to the success of your organization is about to retire and take with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Not only will you miss the funny stories of “back in the day” or how much they appreciate how simplified things have become compared to when they began their careers, you will be losing a significant source of knowledge, insight and experience. You may not be able to do anything about the experience, but you can make the transition easier by facilitating the transfer of knowledge and insight by offering phased retirement programs to those employees.

Not only will a phased retirement program likely benefit the employee, but it will also aid in the transfer of knowledge to those employees taking their place. Who better to transfer this knowledge than those who have lived through the ups and the downs of the economy, who have seen technology go from 0 to 60 in a matter of a few short years, and who have gained invaluable insight of overall business needs and what it takes to be successful?

Currently, this is the Baby Boomer generation and as time goes by will transfer to Generation X who reportedly will account for over 30% of the workforce in 2024, with nearly 40% being 55 or older, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a related study conducted by the University of North Carolina in 2015, labor shortages are expected through 2020 as the Baby Boomer generation faces retirement age of 65, at a rate of 10,000 people per day. This will definitely cause some challenges for organizations, so it is important to make efforts to recruit and retain various generational groups in order to successfully transfer necessary knowledge required for business needs and growth.

Graph Illustration: Generations at a Glance

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure that you are holding on to that priceless knowledge and transferring it to the next generation of workers:

Formalize a process, yet make it flexible to accommodate all parties involved:

  • This increases the confidence of the team members who know that they’re not expected to just figure things out when the time comes.

Cross – Train:

  • This can alleviate the risk of a key person leaving with a full head of knowledge. Ensure that there are at least two people who can step in at a moment’s notice.
  • Ensure you have all the appropriate resources and tools to adequately facilitate knowledge transfer.

Consider developing a phased retirement option:

  • This will allow employees to continue working while transitioning to retirement at their own pace.
  • This will allow adequate time for effective knowledge transfer.

Develop mentor programs:

  • This will allow senior level employees to share their expertise with those who will be filling their role and will build a sense of rapport and trust.
  • The newer employees should feel comfortable reaching out to their mentor to ask for help when resolving problems, which will help build employee expertise, and provide employees with the confidence to deal with issues when they arise. By continuously checking to make sure the right knowledge is being captured and shared, your organization can seamlessly transition during the departure of key personnel.

It is difficult to lose your most trusted and valuable people, yet try to make the transition positive and seamless. Recognize the valuable contributions they have made to the organization by encouraging them to share their wealth of knowledge. It will not only help your employee feel like they have truly succeeded in their career, yet it will help to make the next generation of employees appreciate and value the insight of those who came before them.

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