Australia’s economy is thriving. A mining boom fueled by demand from China has led to a shortage of skilled workers and a 5% jobless rate in this country (Source). In 2009-10, mining had the highest capital expenditure ($45.6 billion), highest wages and salaries per employee ($117,500), highest sales and service income per person employed ($1.06 million) and a profit margin (33.4%) (Source).
After having met some HR Directors and Managers in large mining businesses in Western Australia during my trip to Australia last week, I’ve found a common concern emerging. How to capture the knowledge that resides in the heads of the ageing workforce, which is on the verge of retiring?
The advantages to having an experienced (read ageing) staff in your team are manifold. One of the most evident ones is, since most of them have spent a large chunk of their working years in your company they can use their experience in getting stuff done and also in helping newer employees learn on the job better. The trouble however is what happens when they retire and, more importantly, such high proportion of the workforce retiring together. At some level this is a concern in every enterprise, sometimes coming from people leaving rather than retiring.
I believe an LMS could be a good place for sharing and capturing tacit knowledge. Of course you’ll need to have an LMS with progressive design and implementation, which allows for informal and social learning interactions to happen in your enterprise. Earlier we had written about getting the most out of your LMS. While there is some overlap between that post and this, below are some thoughts on what could be done using an LMS from the perspective of the retiring workforce:
Allowing staff to learn from each other through a discussion forum can help capture the expert opinions on some critical questions. It helps new and less experienced staff to engage and learn directly from the more experienced staff. And in the process it also helps establish your knowledgeable staff higher on a position of expertise, making them get noticed by management and motivating them further to continue helping others on the discussions forums.
Sharing & Rating
By allowing your staff to share their own blogs and media (photos/videos), you are allowing each one of them to ignite a thought. Invariably others will join in (to comment) with their points of view which will help everyone get a better picture of the issue/concept/problem from different perspectives. Ratings would help buoy the most credible responses and comments to the top making the LMS the go to place for staff in the future when they are looking for answers.
This is a collaborative space for creating knowledge documents/material where anyone (depending on whom you assign the editing capability) can make changes to the documents with every change being recorded. This could work well for areas where information is constantly evolving. We had written about the unharnessed potential of LMS Wikis sometime back on our blog.
Videos have been known to improve user engagement since a very long time. Ten or fifteen years ago, videos were used predominantly by most organizations for training. And the growth of You Tube and other video channels have further catapulted videos as one of the best learning tools available today – marking the return of video to eLearning.
For some employees, recording their thoughts as videos is much easier than documenting them in words. This is especially true given the nature of the retiring workforce as it may be difficult to motivate them to write on their own in various areas in the LMS. These videos can act as great eLearning tools and knowledge stores by themselves or can be used to trigger other social activities around the videos (as mentioned under ‘Sharing/Rating’)
Some enterprises are assigning more desk jobs to the experienced staff, even extending their retirement to help younger staff when they get stuck on some tasks. While this one-to-one help is great, your LMS could effectively make it one-to-many by capturing the knowledge for easy access by future generations.
What are the age demographics of your workforce? How are you leveraging the knowledge of your experienced employees to benefit your organizational working? Let us know in the comment box below.
CIPD HRD 2013 | Apr 24 – 25 | Olympia, London, UK | Stand #425
ASTD ICE 2013 | May 19 – 22 | Dallas, TX, USA | Stand #839
LMS Switching Guide