This Week’s Dilemma

Most of my workforce has been in the industry for years and has built up valuable skills and knowledge. Their experience is valuable to my company and I would not want to be without it. With a number of them approaching retirement age, I want to ensure that my older employees pass on their skills and market knowledge to younger workers before they leave the company. How do I go about this?

Anne Ash is head of learning and development at GE Money Home Lending
The loss of experience is worrying for any company as staff can leave at any age, taking their knowledge with them. It is important to have policies to ensure knowledge remains within a firm.

Identifying potential knowledge gaps through a skills audit should be your first move. Then you can determine which of the following initiatives will prove most beneficial.

First, you could implement a buddy scheme among staff and new starters. This provides a support system and functions as a knowledge bank. Experienced workers know the ins and outs of a company and the best operating practices in their field. Placing them in close contact with juniors enables skill and knowledge retention through shared experiences. They can observe each other dealing with daily issues and learn alternative ways of doing their jobs.

Another tactic is to introduce a series of ‘brown bag’ lunches. These ensure all members of staff are engaged with the business. Experienced staff should host these lunches for their team members, and cover market and technical topics. Keeping the lunches informal enables employees to voice concerns and obtain advice.

Finally, senior management should ensure each department has a set of knowledge cards and user guides for new starters. The company will then have a permanent knowledge bank at its finger tips. But remember to keep updating it.