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Prevent productivity losses through knowledge transfer

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Many workers are nearing retirement age. In order to thrive, businesses will need to find ways to retain these workers’ valuable skills and knowledge.

A major shift is occurring in Québec’s labour market. For the first time in Canada’s history, people over 65 outnumber those under 15.

With many skilled workers leaving the job market, businesses will struggle with even more acute labour shortages in the years to come. But if organizations start planning now, they can mitigate some of these losses. Besides passing on key skills and knowledge, a successful transfer strategy should contribute to employee motivation and retention.

Plan ahead to prevent a drop in productivity

The more prepared you are, the better your organization will be able to cope with the departure of your most experienced employees. To avoid a drop in productivity—and a slowdown in growth—you’ll need to plan how your business will pass on critical knowledge and expertise.

By adopting the right strategies, you’ll be able to retain the knowledge acquired within the organization and stay competitive in your market.

Creating a knowledge transfer strategy

We recommend implementing a simple and effective knowledge transfer strategy focused on maintaining a strong level of performance within your organization.

The first step is to identify, classify and model the areas of expertise that you consider to be essential to the long-term success of the business.

Without restricting the autonomy and initiative of new hires, your knowledge transfer strategy should specify the skills and abilities required for each position and the risks associated with losing this valuable expertise.

Include these key actions in your strategy :

  • Identify critical roles where a loss of knowledge could become a major challenge for your business;
  • Clearly define your knowledge transfer objectives and strategies (competency map, risk management, loss of productivity, scarcity of skilled labour, etc.);
  • Develop and encourage a culture of learning and knowledge sharing (coaching, mentoring, reverse mentoring, etc.);
  • Invest in relevant technology or resources (virtual platform, publications, community of practice, etc.);
  • Praise good actions and encourage your managers to support knowledge transfer initiatives;
  • Create a culture of recognition in the workplace that rewards motivation and engagement.

When viewed as a strategic imperative, recognition can have a positive impact on team mobilization and help the organization achieve its business objectives. It’s also an important factor in the success of a knowledge transfer strategy.

Finally, offer training on knowledge transfer to your managers and HR staff and educate them about the importance and challenges of this strategy.

Passing on the organization’s culture

Besides transferring knowledge from your most experienced employees to your newest hires, it’s also important to pass on your organization’s culture: in other words, an understanding of its history, values, mission and clients. Employees who acquire this understanding are more likely to stay with your organization in the long term.

An effective knowledge transfer strategy is a powerful driver of growth and essential for preserving an organization’s culture and knowledge. This knowledge is a strategic asset, and underestimating the importance of the knowledge transfer strategy can have serious consequences. Fortunately, an experienced external advisor can help guide you through this process and recommend best practices tailored to your business model to ensure a successful transition.

Skilled labour is an increasingly rare commodity. Demographic trends and the departure of key employees will only increase the pressure on businesses facing a shortage of skilled workers.

By encouraging your teams and managers to develop skills sharing practices, you’ll be helping your employees thrive and feel valued while improving the agility and performance of your organization in the future.

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