Have your HR department calculate the percentage of your employees nearing retirement. Depending upon your total headcount, this ratio could cause a ripple or a massive tidal wave. Regardless, organizations have to be proactive and plan for the imminent consequences--because after someone retires or leaves, it's too late.
To add to the sense of urgency, odds are, the employees who fit into this retirement bucket have also moved up your org chart. They not only hold leadership positions, but an invaluable amount of information--tricks of the trade, wisdom, and advice that, if left unspoken, could retire along with your employees.
One of the many challenges facing organizations regarding the silver wave of retirement is facilitating this knowledge transfer. Here are tips to speed up the process:
1. Provide backup training and encourage documentation
Aka the "hit by a bus" plan. If someone leaves unexpectedly, their role and responsibilities should be documented. If you haven't already, conduct job assessments and identify the major tasks and responsibilities of your key constituents. For every MAJOR function, the incumbent should develop guides to coach newbies through the process. By systematizing jobs, you'll have a much easier time duplicating them.
2. Identify the core competencies that contributed to your retiree's success
Examples could include productivity, customer focus, relationship building, or detail orientation. Whatever they may be, pinpoint them and train, train, train. Make sure that the traits of your successful employees are defined and passed down.
3. Develop processes that lend themselves to knowledge sharing
You could implement a mentorship/buddy program, promote job-shadowing, leverage your internal L&D department to curate educational content, or facilitate internal networking initiatives. Put an emphasis on relationship building, learning, and collaboration. Better yet, invest in tools that elicit teamwork. At Welltower, we use programs like WebEx, Trello, and Chatter.
4. Encourage your tenured employees to delegate tasks
As your employees progress, they should have less technical tasks and more people development responsibilities. Everything that can be should be delegated. Leaders must seek to scale themselves through their people and should be rewarded for doing so.
5. Maximize the use of your information systems
One of the greatest benefits of information systems is the automation of processes and the safeguards that protect them. By providing system training, organizations simultaneously teach years of process design. If you have systems, use them.
It may not be convenient, but preparing your organization for retirement is necessary. It turns brain drain into brain gain.