Tribal Knowledge Continues to Decline

According to a recent study, approximately 25% of the United States will be 60 years or older by the year 2025. Resulting in nearly a quarter of our experienced workforce exiting. Companies are beginning to plan for what needs to be done to prepare the next generations, NOW.

Capturing Tribal knowledge is a challenge for many companies. Employees are nervous to divulge information that makes them less of an asset. Do you remember being trained in a job and hearing re-iterated… “job security, job security.” It’s a real fear for older employees, they are concerned they’ll lose their jobs before they are ready to leave the workforce. These employees aren’t just concerned about giving information out but they aren’t interested in teaching other employees either. If they do, they may not teach all the tips & tricks that they’ve learned over the years that keeps them at MVP status.

The age-old question, how do we maintain a successful business as the tribal knowledge continues to leave the organization? There isn’t a formula to this for sure but there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Make those employees feel valued. Re-assure them of their worth & job security.
  2. They like to be the fixers. Let them know that even with capturing what they know, nothing is more valuable than their experience.
  3. They may not follow proper procedures. As tribal knowledge is captured, not all will be good or should be reproduced.

As a company, you can try to capture as much tribal knowledge as possible but those employees hold the most value and always will. Companies need to do the best to capture what they can to minimize the negative impact of the older generation leaving the workforce.

In a nutshell, here are some starting points.

  1. Determine the gatekeepers of knowledge

Knowing where to start can be quite an overwhelming decision. It may vary from organization to organization but generally, it’s best to start with the employees with the most knowledge. Those who tend to be closest to retirement. These employees may be more willing to help since they are already preparing to exit the workforce.

2. Define Content Parameters to Capture

Knowing what content path and staying on target is essential for making an impact in training. Try to pick one department or one process rather than sporadic pieces of a process.

3. Digitize Training

Digital training content is more accessible & easier to replicate in masses. Many times creating digital training is also more efficient.

4. Distribute

Lastly, it’s time to distribute. If the training is digital then this is most likely very easy. Push out the training using all the applicable channels.