Managing risk includes managing one of your most important assets ? your workforce. With fear in some quarters that intellectual capital may be leaving the many industries faster than it can be replaced, here are some steps to reduce the impact of retirement and increase employee retention.
Is your organization ready to lose up to 25 percent of its intellectual capital in the next few years? Add this flight to an average job stay of three-to-four years, and businesses in America are at risk. America is poised for an employment exodus so dramatic that many companies will find themselves unprepared.
Here are some possible steps companies can take to manage looming intellectual losses.
Don’t underestimate the impact of generational gaps.
There are four generations of workers in today’s diverse work force. Intergenerational teams can bring divergent employees together where they can benefit from each others’ strengths, not just complain about weaknesses. Older workers are delaying retirement; younger workers who wanted their jobs may feel frustrated by the recent economic downturn, which delayed retirement for so many.
Analyze current work force strengths and talents to determine core competencies.
If only a few co-workers know an employee’s expertise, then that knowledge is useless to the organization as a whole. This knowledge becomes an information silo, a vertical information cluster not transmitted laterally to co-workers. Analyzing employees’ expertise and knowledge and categorizing it so that it becomes accessible by other employees is critical to improving and strengthening your work force. Without sufficient categorized intellectual capital, a company may not be robust enough to respond to opportunities as they arise.
Determine which employees are potential flight risks.
Talk openly with employees eligible for or considering retirement. They may have home/work difficulties or financial concerns that, if solved, can help you can retain them. Flexibility is the key. Employees may need more time off, greater leeway to work non-core hours or to work at home. If the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is voluntary in your company, consider allowing FMLA leave. Offer incentives to delay an employee’s departure.
Prepare to replace exiting information agents when those employees retire.
In smaller organizations, this process may be informal, but larger companies must develop a process to both recognize the intellectual loss and replace it. Companies must develop time frames and provide incentives so that newer information agents can become experts on specific topics before the need arises.
Hire retiring employees as consultants.
With the increasing cost of medical care for retirees, many welcome a supplement to their retirement income. Adding benefit package components that appeal to older workers, such as long-term care insurance or prorated health coverage for part-time work, may also help retain them.
Use technology to drive inter-company communications.
Intranets, videoconferencing, peer-to-peer technology, and podcasts are information portals that allow communication between distant workers in varying time zones. Encourage workers to develop virtual relationships to share ideas and solve problems using these tools.
In the final segment, we will review more tips for managing a changing workforce.