Mar 23

Why Knowledge Transfer Is Essential For A Millennial Workforce

By Theresa Heldt, Founder, StrategizeIT Consulting

I was recently facilitating in an organization and a startling fact came up: one of the company’s management mentioned that 60% of their current workforce would be retirement-eligible by 2020. The conversation continued, “Facing this potential level of employee loss, how do we motivate our younger workers, the millennials in particular, to stay with the organization? Could the process of knowledge transfer also strengthen engagement and loyalty among our next generation of team members?”

With ongoing economic changes and constant technological evolution, every company should be proactive about knowledge management. Knowledge transfer is most often performed through mentoring or training, but the keys to success are clear communication and a defined process toward the goals that need to be achieved.

First, be aware that each generation works and communicates differently. “Communication used to be an art form in the boomer generation — think letters. It was a means to an end for Gen-Xers — think e-mails — and for millennials it’s more of a distraction because of the speed of texting, Snapchat, messaging. With chat, text and instant messaging, communication has become more blunt, short and to the point, which can be great for millennials but not for older workers. There has to be much more thoughtful communication,” says Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond. Working to bridge communication styles between generations will help create a culture that more successfully transfers knowledge from those that retire to those that remain.

To answer the second question of how to engage and keep millennials as they become a bigger part of the workplace, organizations must think about engagement. According to Fortune’s 2016 100 Best Companies to Work For report, “My work has special meaning: this is not ‘just a job’” tops the list of distinguishing factors associated with the desire to stay at a company. With this in mind, it makes sense to understand which elements of an employee’s role not only contribute to the overall business but also provide personal fulfillment. These elements comprise “stay factors” that galvanize millennial team members.

How do you find out what each employee’s “stay factors” are? Just ask them! Is it challenging work, and if so, are they given opportunities for that work? Is it recognition? How would they prefer to be appreciated? Is it a flexible work schedule? One-off bonuses? Company-wide public recognition? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and examine all the possibilities. Many options may already exist that can be implemented easily and affordably, with dual positive outcomes of increasing employee satisfaction and reducing costly turnover.

As leaders in an organization, it is critical to address knowledge transfer of a retiring workforce and retention of the younger generation. Until you create a culture that values clear communication and expression, you run the risk of ongoing issues of quality, productivity, performance, engagement, and success.

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