Recently, we visited a land services
company that had run out of cabinet
space and was storing its records in
boxes marked with handwritten dates.
Not surprisingly, this organization was
experiencing a host of inefficiencies,
including lost or misplaced records.
We have also seen organizations that
manage their key assets—hundreds
of paper maps for both old and new
projects—by updating the important
project details like easement restrictions
and contact information on sticky notes
attached to those maps.
Now imagine being a young
professional, someone who has grown
up with electronics and smart devices,
having to dig through file cabinets or
boxes in search of an important file
or map. The reality is, not only is this
perceived as an outdated mode of
documentation, it makes the transfer
of knowledge more complex and
cumbersome than it needs to be.
An Aging Workforce
For employees ready to retire, this
milestone is cause for celebration.
However, for their employers, it can
mean a difficult road ahead, especially
for those who have not taken adequate
steps toward knowledge retention.
It’s a well-known fact that America’s
workforce is getting older. According
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
by 2020 more than 25 percent of U.S.
workers will be 55 or older, continuing
a trend since 2000 of an increasing
number of older employees in the
workforce. And the public sector will
be hit even harder. The International
City/County Management Association
reported that 63. 3 percent of city and
county managers and other chief
appointed local officials were older than
50, while 25 percent were older than 60.
The trend has been named the “Silver
It is understandable that 80 percent
of human resources professionals
identify the aging workforce as their
biggest worry. Less than half of those
professionals, though, say their
organization has a plan to address it.
Impact on Workforce
The aging workforce is fundamentally
changing American society, and its
impact on our economy is profound.
Workers approaching retirement
possess unique and oftentimes
undocumented knowledge of project
history and complex processes. When
those employees retire or leave for
other reasons, the organization must
not only replace them, but somehow
transfer their industry knowledge and
project expertise. It may take two years
to sufficiently train a new employee on
company operations and procedures,
but it is unrealistic to expect someone
to attain in two years the level of
BY YOGESH KHANDELWAL AND DAN LIGGETT
Automating processes is critical as veteran employees retire
THE TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE