Don’t Let Your Knowledge Retire

Don’t Let Your Knowledge Retire

There is a growing concern from organizations that they may have painted themselves into a corner as close to 40% of their workforce is eligible to retire over the next five years. Consequently, they could be taking valuable skills and proprietary processes with them. Don’t let your knowledge retire.

While younger workers make up the gap made by the loss of Baby Boomers, some of the skills and processes that Baby Boomers have developed over the course of their long career within a single organization will need to be transferred to younger workers in a very short period of time.

“One major oil company explained that, because of its long-standing investment in proprietary processes and technologies, a new engineer requires five to seven years to become fully autonomous and productive” ~ Global Human Capital Trends 2014, Deloitte Consulting LLP

If we take a look at a breakdown of employee demographic by age over the course of a 20 year period, the scope of the problem becomes crystal clear.

Workforce Composition








Gen X




Baby Boomers




Source: CompTIA Generational Research On Technology And Its Impact In The Workplace

Over the course of 20 years, Baby Boomers have gone from making up 48% of the workforce to a projected 20% in 2020. With their retirement also comes the retirement of decades worth of proprietary policies and procedures. While some Baby Boomers may wish to stay on part-time in a consultation role, others will most likely enjoy their retirement and not worry about work at all.

Were this a simple passing of  knowledge from one generation to another, it would not be a problem. However, Millennials and Generation X workers have different preferences that define not only the way that they work but also in how long they will typically stay with a company. If knowledge takes years to master, you can’t have someone walking out the door as soon as they perfect it.


The Race Against Time


Job Hopping is becoming the new normal and employees are staying at their job for roughly 4 years before moving on. If effective knowledge and skill transfer is to be achieved, it needs to be quick, effective, and presented in a manner that is attractive to those receiving it.

According to CompTIA, 45% of Millennials have used some form of elearning within the last year. E-learning appeals to this generation as it allows them to work autonomously at their own pace and not have their timetable interrupted by “having to take the training”. It also allows them to work on the mobile device that they may already have in their possession.

However, taking the knowledge and translating it into elearning format will take some time. It involves two very important steps:

  1. Documentation
    In the best scenario, the information will already exist in digital format like a Word document on the organization’s internal network. However, there may be cases where information only exists in hard copy or solely within the head of the subject matter expert. If this is the case the information will need to be transcribed. This is a very lengthy process that involves both the subject matter expert and the person transcribing the information.

  2. Development
    Once the information is in a digital format, the learning and development manager will need to work with the custom elearning developer to take the information and determine the best way in which to teach it based on learning goals. Some knowledge may require the use of a more complex and scenario-driven course in order to help a learner navigate through a typical workplace situation; some material may have a more urgent need to be accessible and easily referenced in which case an e-manual will be the best method to present the information.

This isn’t a problem that can be deferred to the next quarter. There needs to be a plan put in place immediately.  Not only do the new generation of learners need to learn quickly, they need to do it effectively. Additionally, retiring subject matter experts need to have their knowledge translated as quickly as possible.

Vantage Path
Vantage Path

More Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply



Latest Posts