The risk posed by an aging workforce is a huge issue for many industries. As experienced staff retire, so will critical knowledge leave with them, which can leave the company highly exposed unless that knowledge can be retained and transferred to more junior, less experienced staff. A Knowledge Retention and Transfer (KRT) Strategy is an approach to reducing this risk.
A KRT Strategy is a strategic approach to the risk of the loss of critical knowledge, and highlights priority areas and topics for knowledge retention activity. In a small company, a knowledge retention strategy can focus on the individuals themselves, while in a larger organization, it may make sense to prioritize the knowledge topics. The knowledge retention strategy then looks at the necessary interventions to address the risk.
The Knowledge Retention Strategy is developed through conversations with senior managers, middle managers and HR, and through the scanning and mapping the priority topics. Strategic responses to these issues are then determined, which may include some or all of the following;
- Reducing the urgency through hiring, or through extending employment contracts
- Knowledge Transfer to other staff, through the development of Communities of Practice, through documentation of processes, and through mentoring and coaching.
- Knowledge Capture. There needs to be owners in place for the captured knowledge, which should feed through into training programs and into the communities of practice.
- Engineering out the need for knowledge.
The Knowledge Retention Strategy will be under pinned and supported by the development of Knowledge capture and documentation skills within the organization. Implementing a retention program requires an investment in training, and requires dedicating time to the knowledge retention process itself.
Where knowledge loss represents a significant risk to an organization, then a Knowledge Retention Strategy and program represents the management of change necessary to reduce that risk to an acceptable level.