It’s a fresh start, and for many manufacturers, the arrival of 2017 brings with it the possibility of large retirement waves. Now is the time to consider prioritizing knowledge transfer from retiring experts to new or less experienced employees.
Experts have been predicting the mass exit of baby boomers from the workforce for years, and 2017 and 2018 are the key years. While younger, incoming workers bring new perspectives and energy to the company, manufacturers fear that they will lose their "brain trust" of expert knowledge and skills. Some of our past case studies examined companies who have taken action:
- Knowledge Transfer Case Study: Identify Needs Early for a Well-Established Approach
- Knowledge Transfer Case Study: Closing the Knowledge Gap
- Knowledge Transfer Case Study: Preparing Younger Generations for Leadership Roles
The risk of "brain drain" is a very real possibility for companies like Boeing, who recognizes that nearly half of its Seattle-area machinists are over 50 years old. Loss of their skills and product knowledge could pose a large threat to a company's bottom line.
So how does the manufacturing market manage the inevitable exit of baby boomers?
Knowledge transfer is key to managing the risk of losing expert skills and knowledge. Ensuring that the new generations entering the workforce are learning from those who have the deepest understanding of the company allows manufacturers to continue productivity with limited disruption.
4 Ways to Better Capture Critical Knowledge
- Assess the risk
Evaluate your company's workforce regularly and be aware of the employees that are reaching retirement age. Assess each position and the impact that it would have on your company to lose that knowledge and skill set.
- Capture core knowledge
Once you’ve identified the at-risk pockets of knowledge that are core to your operations, capture it in a way you can leverage when, where, and how you need it. Novatek’s knowledge transfer quick-start package can help determine the best approach.
- Build a mentor program
Establishing a program that creates knowledge sharing opportunities between experienced employees and greener employees will reinforce on-the-job learning and give both groups of employees a chance to get different perspectives. Consider job aids, train-the-trainer, and other tools to facilitate this transfer of knowledge.
- Embrace the changing workforce
The generations that are becoming the majority of your workforce learn, act, and think very differently than those who will be exiting the company. While it's important to make sure that legacy knowledge is passed down, being open to changes in how new employees fit your company ecosystem is also critical to success.
Is your company prepared for the retirement of well-experienced employees? To determine if you're company is successfully using knowledge transfer…