Eric Lesser of IBM in this interview speaks about a IBM Business Consulting Services study, Addressing the challenges of an aging workforce. The focus is on European companies.
Recommendations from the report are:
“Based on our research and working with companies on their workforce strategies, we recommend that companies consider the following six strategies for addressing the challenges of an aging workforce:
• Redirect recruiting and sourcing efforts to include mature workers
• Retain valued employees through developing alternative work arrangements
• Preserve critical knowledge before it walks out the door
• Provide opportunities for workers to continually update their skills
• Facilitate the coexistence of multiple generations in the workforce
• Help ensure that mature workers are able to use technology effectively in
Jack Vinson had posted his view on KM issues relating to aging/retirement in his blog Knowledge Jolt. He said “Yes, it will be bad if the XYZ expert retires (or otherwise vanishes from the company), but isn’t this what organizations have been managing ever since organizations have been around? Maybe the problem is more in the quantity of retirements and that it is becoming difficult to hire intelligent / skilled replacements (hiring freezes, skills not taught anymore). “
This indeed seems to be the case. In the interview Eric says: “Many companies are beginning to find it difficult to hire new employees within certain disciplines, as the labor pools for younger workers continue to shrink in many countries. A less visible, but no less dangerous problem, is the loss of expertise resulting from mature workers leaving the organization without passing on their knowledge to others. As greater numbers of “knowledge workers” retire, they take with them insights about managing customer relationships, handling critical processes, and a host of other experiences that can cost organizations significant amounts of time, energy and resources to recreate or replace. More often that not, the transfer of this knowledge is often ignored, placing the organization in a position to repeat prior mistakes and expose itself to additional financial and operational risk.”
IBM seems to be practicing what it is preaching. This news article on IBM New Zealand says:
“IBM New Zealand has started a programme to retain older workers as they approach retirement, believing this is the best way to meet an ICT skills shortage that it predicts will deepen in coming years. “. They call this the “intergenerational diversity strategy”. The article touches upon most of the recommendations that the IBM Business Consulting Services study makes.