Corporate knowledge: transfer it or lose it

December 8, 2014 - Tags: Employers Managing

When your long-term employees move on, they take with them years of experience, wisdom, and knowledge. To save this knowledge, consider setting up a voluntary mentoring program. In every business, there comes a time when long-term employees either retire or depart. The reason for their departure might be because they are:

  • Starting their own business
  • Raising a family
  • Considering a career change
  • Going back to school
  • Leaving the country
  • Settling into retirement

Set up a mentoring program

Here are some tips for setting up and maintaining a mentoring program within your business:

  • Find out which of your departing employees are interested in being mentors.
  • Pair up your resigning employees with your newer ones in groups of two or more. It's up to you to decide how to form the groups.
  • Have your mentoring employees look over the projects and tasks of the newer employees and offer assistance or advice.
  • Ask your departing employees to train new ones.
  • Check in with your mentoring groups often to see how things are going.

Other ways of transferring knowledge from your departing employees to your newer ones may be to:

  • Have your human resources department sound out your retiring employees about their concerns and their experiences with your business. This could take the form of a quiz, a questionnaire, a survey, or an interview.
  • Document important information that your employees mention to human resources or to their mentoring partners. Compiling this information in an online directory, a database on the company's intranet, a contact database or your business' guideline is one way of keeping this information within the business.

Do consider employee confidentiality. Departing employees may have concerns about your business that they want to discuss with human resources, but would like to remain anonymous. If human resources can set up an agreement with these employees to ensure anonymity, employees might feel more at ease when discussing your business' strengths and weaknesses.

For more information on how to transfer knowledge and plan business transitions, check out our Succession Planning section and the BDC's Succession planning page.

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