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Retaining the Knowledge of Experienced Employees

At any given time, several persons in the energy workforce are eligible to retire, including those in key positions. A retiring employee is a reason to celebrate in an industry that has always prided itself on the fulfilling, stable, and long-lasting careers it offers and the care it takes of its workers. But retirement is also a challenge. Every retiring employee possesses years, even decades, of subject matter expertise. It is important that this knowledge and these skill sets do not leave with each retiring employee.

The best way to ensure your company can keep and transfer those skills and valuable lessons is to have a formal process in place for retaining the knowledge experienced employees have honed. A holistic, company-wide knowledge management strategy, including a deliberate knowledge transfer and retention process, can save a company from losing vital know-how. Here are 5 tips to help soon to be retiring employees and your organisation make a smooth transition.

  1. Protect Knowledge

Long-time employees have often formed relationships across the company, giving them a deeper understanding of how their job impacts other areas and departments. They have built a wealth of knowledge about how to work most efficiently and know your customers. This type of expertise is harnessed over time but would be useful to new-comers to your organisation. Encourage managers to have experienced employees share their knowledge in monthly meetings or document the processes and procedures that would be useful to others.

  1. Cross-train employees

Cross-training is another antidote to the brain-drain inherent when veteran employees leave. A three to six month assignment in another department allows younger or newer workers to gain hands-on experience in areas of the company unfamiliar to them. This would result in a better understanding of how different departments sync and work together to create value for the consumer.

  1. Consider alternatives to full retirement

For some employees part-time alternative work arrangements may be an option to full retirement that could benefit both employee and your organisation. Some employees may want to remain in a part-time or consulting role for a few years, while easing into full retirement. Going part-time forces needed changes in roles and responsibilities but leaves the older employee in place and available to answer questions and share wisdom. Occasional consulting may also work for special projects or to free an experienced manager to coach newer leaders.

  1. Succession Planning

As older workers retire or make lateral moves you should have a plan in place so that younger specialists and managers have time to learn from their older peers and be ready to step into senior roles when the time comes. A succession plan that outlines each position’s key roles and responsibilities can help your organization shake self-limiting behaviours and create opportunities to find excellent replacements for retiring workers.

  1. Be proactive

Knowledge transfer takes time and effort, so don’t wait until a week before the retirement party to start the process. Either through mentorship, job sharing, job shadowing or other techniques, have your retiring workers share the whys behind what they do and the way they do it.

Together, these tips can help member companies celebrate each retirement properly, while retaining the vital know-how long-tenured employees carry.

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