Human beings have been passing knowledge down to each other since the beginning of time. It’s how we grow, and it’s how we improve our lives. While you would think that it would actually be impossible to lose knowledge now thanks to technology, you’d be wrong.
In fact, it’s a huge problem in today’s business world. It’s estimated that a person will change jobs 12 times within their career. While in the past people stayed with an employer for their entire life, those times are over, and now your employees will likely be jumping around to secure the best offers for themselves.
Training a replacement should be easy, but this is not always the case. This is especially true if one of your employees manages a lot of your company’s information. If they fail to teach that information to your new hires, then your company is going to experience a major informational setback.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how this problem can be avoided. You’ll learn some methods that you can employ in your company to cut back on information loss and how you can make it sting a little less if a key employee changes jobs.
1. Use mentoring to your advantage
In addition to people who will be changing jobs to secure greater benefits for themselves, you also likely have a large group of individuals in your company who will be exiting the workforce entirely. These retirees have spent their lifetime building expertise that has been very useful to your company, and you should make sure that they pass that down before they leave.
Establishing a mentoring program can help them to do that. It also could make your newly hired employees feel more welcome and better prepared for their jobs to learn from someone who has been there before.
This can be accomplished in many ways, and even if your staff doesn’t have the time or the ability to meet in person frequently mentoring can also be accomplished via online mediums like chats.
2. Build a knowledge library
Mentoring is great, but eventually, those people who are acting as mentors will leave. What do you do when they’re not around to mentor your new hires anymore? Well, you could get them to help you build a knowledge library!
This isn’t nearly as intimidating as it sounds, and even something as simple as a wiki could help your newest employees to do their best work. More experienced employees will likely even be happy to assist with this because it can help to silence the thousand questions they may get a day from well-meaning but lost new hires. With a good knowledge library in place, they can simply point them to the wiki for self-service mentoring.
These libraries also have a search function, making it easy to find what you need when you need it, so there’s no need to wade through piles of paperwork to find an answer. Plus, by asking your employees to log important information it’s preserved for the lifetime of your company.
What exactly should go into your knowledge library? That depends on you and your business, but it’s a good bet to include anything that would be important for onboarding. This includes things like work processes, standards to follow, resources and anything else that could help them to become productive members of your team quickly.
3. Better organize your day to day processes
Everyone has their own way of doing things, and that’s not normally an issue while they’re still around. However, it can be a huge problem when they leave, and someone else needs to take over their job. Trying to decipher the messy workspace of a co-worker is a nightmare that leads to a lag in productivity and unnecessary stress for your other employees.
For this reason, it might be a good idea to establish work standards in your office. When you use standards, everyone knows how the system works. If one employee is missing in action either permanently or temporarily, anyone else in their office can immediately jump in to get things back on track.
It also makes it much easier to train new employees when there’s a standard blueprint to follow. A company needs to work together, and that means processes which don’t include everyone will eventually become a hindrance. Using standards preserves company knowledge by requiring that it be recorded in a certain way that makes it easy to use.
4. Take advantage of machine learning
Many people are still not comfortable with machine learning, but it can actually be very useful. While it does take some time to train an AI, once they learn, you can use them forever to perform tasks for you and get work done faster.
This presents an interesting opportunity for your most seasoned employees to teach your AI to perform certain tasks. These processes can continue to run long after that employee retires or seeks greener pastures, not only preserving their knowledge for future use but also automating frustrating workflows at the same time.
Machine learning is obviously not meant for everything, and it does take resources to get started. So, you’ll only want to use machine learning for processes which you’ll need to repeat often. This could include tasks like analysis or data classification which are extremely time-consuming and sometimes even impossible for humans to do.
By using machine learning, you can preserve your data forever and have your AI perform tasks to the same standard as the humans who have trained it. This is not only very convenient, but it also helps your other employees to be more productive because they can use the AI to automate frustrating parts of their responsibilities as well. This frees them up to do other work that’s more important.
In closing, while your employees will eventually make their way out the door, their knowledge does not have to go with them. Your company has likely spent thousands of dollars on this education, and it’s in your best interest to find ways that will allow you to continue to benefit from it.