The departure of long-time employees can be a concern for companies and municipalities and lead to questions of how they will effectively replace such valuable workers and their wealth of knowledge and experience.
Rather than waiting until a key employee announces their retirement to begin preparing for their departure, however, municipalities can take steps to make sure they won’t feel the loss as severely.
The goal is to be able to seamlessly transfer knowledge from the retiring employee to any current or future staff.
What that transferred information and knowledge looks like will vary from one organization to another, but key challenges should be identified early in the process. Knowledge can be categorized two different ways, according to the Association for Talent Development: explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is more tangible information that can be easily documented. Tacit knowledge, however, is the knowledge, or wisdom, gained from experience which can’t as easily be passed from a seasoned employee to a new hire. This can include various skills or experiences that the seasoned employee may not realize they have. Working with the long-time employee to identify and document as much of that tacit knowledge before they leave is crucial.
Once those key areas are identified and documented, operators should create a centralized digital storage space where current and future employees can easily track down the information left for them. This might be a shared drive, server or cloud space.
It’s also important that this information can be easily understood by future employees. There are several ways to make sure this happens, but adopting a standardized process—or defect catalog—company-wide is a good first step, if you don’t already have one in place.
In the sewer industry, standards like the Pipeline Assessment Certification Program and WRc exist primarily for two reasons: so data can be exchanged freely among people using different systems, and so that data gathered by different people can be compared accurately.
Using a standardized format can help to prevent inconsistencies or mistakes. By maintaining standardized practices across the company, future employees will also have an easier time aligning their work with existing inspection records.
Replacing key employees after they retire can be difficult, and the growing shortage of young workers seeking employment in skilled trades can make it even harder. But having standardized processes in place, and a reliable place to store that information like WinCan VX software, can help ensure continuity in company practices, even as key employees retire.
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