Plan Now For 1st Quarter 2009 Retirement Surge

APQC best practice research finds retirement of baby boomers could create huge knowledge vacuum; potential loss of intellectual capital extends beyond retirees

(Houston, TX - September 3, 2008) - Protecting intellectual capital is essential as corporations struggle to replace retirees in the first quarter of 2009 and prepare for the impending retirement of 77 million baby boomers over the next two decades. One third of all recent U.S. retirees who file for Social Security benefits will sign up in the first three months of the year, with January being the most popular retirement month by far, according to the Social Security Administration.

To avoid the potential brain drain, companies are revamping their knowledge retention and transfer strategy to stem knowledge loss and prepare for the future. Retaining Today's Knowledge for Tomorrow's Work Force, a new 229-page research report by non-profit APQC, the best practices and process improvement research firm, reveals actionable best practices for managing these retirement surges.  APQC named The Aerospace Corporation, Fluor Corporation, Michelin North America Inc., NASA, and Rolls-Royce plc as best-practice organizations. Download the free executive summary at www.apqc.org/studies/rtk.

"Baby boomer retirements could create huge losses of tacit knowledge that threaten corporate growth strategies, but the knowledge transfer challenge is not limited to retirements," says Carla O'Dell, APQC president. "Layoffs, normal turnover, mergers and acquisitions, and the constant movement of people from project to project make it ever more critical for companies to implement effective knowledge retention strategies. Generational gaps that influence how people work and collaborate with one another further complicate the knowledge transfer challenge."

The research identified 26 best practices for knowledge retention (see sidebar). This APQC Best Practices report offers managers detailed strategies and approaches for:

  • determining the potential impact of knowledge loss,
  • identifying knowledge that needs to be retained,
  • establishing processes for capturing and transferring knowledge,
  • aligning knowledge retention with business and work force strategies, and
  • evaluating knowledge retention processes and their overall impact.

Download a free copy of the executive summary at www.apqc.org/studies/rtk. The publication is available in print and electronic formats for $295 for APQC members and $395 for non-members. The case studies are also available for individual purchase.

To interact with experts on knowledge management, visit APQC's KM blog, www.kmedge.org.

10 Best Practices for Knowledge Retention

1. Communities of practice are a primary vehicle to identify, capture, and transfer knowledge.
2. Best-practice organizations apply facilitated knowledge-transfer approaches-such as knowledge audits, handoff documents, lessons learned, and interviews-to capture job-related knowledge.
3. Mentoring and apprenticeship programs play a key role in tacit knowledge transfer.
4. Best-practice organizations engage with subject matter experts in a formal, structured manner for the purposes of knowledge retention and transfer.
5. Storytelling continues to play an important role in imparting history, context, heroes, and values to employees.

6. In-house training organizations are taking on a larger, more strategic role with regard to knowledge retention and transfer.
7. Knowledge retention and transfer approaches span the employment life cycle, and best-in-class organizations continue to tap the expertise of retirees.
8. Disciplined use of enabling technology is what makes such technology effective.
9. Web 2.0 technologies may enable peer-to-peer knowledge transfer in ways that existing enterprise-wide knowledge capture applications cannot.
10. Using business outcomes to measure the effectiveness of knowledge retention and transfer activities provides the strongest evidence of value.

Source: APQC 2008. Retaining Today's Knowledge for Tomorrow's Work Force.