The issue of the aging workforce is common in organisations, particularly in large, established corporations. In most instances, a significant portion of the senior management team comprises a fair amount of employees who are about to retire. This issue has become prominent in this era of business. It has also called for the attention of leaders within various organisations, with most of them trying to devise strategies attempting to cater for the exiting employees who have reached their retirement age.
The strategies assembled to cater for the aging work force are typically centered on talent management initiatives, such as the coaching, mentoring or shadowing of senior staff by junior staff. This is because of the realisation of the fact that retiring employees exit with great chunks of organisational knowledge and therefore there should be mechanisms put in place to assist with the retaining of these greybeards’ “know-how” as they leave, thus securing business continuity. Nonetheless, we are now living in the knowledge economy, where your employees’ greatest asset is their knowledge. Because of this, leaders in some organisations have also taken initiatives to empower their retiring work force to continue having an impact with the knowledge that they have acquired over their extensive years of service. This then positions these retirees to live a meaningful life as they enter a new phase. Practitioners such as Lynda Smith, founder of Refirement Network, have been working together with leaders in various organisations and assisting them in this regard. Lynda helps employees “refire” instead of retiring. She assists organisations encompass in their retirement strategy a platform to equip retiring employees for life after retirement. The aim of this is to ensure that retiring employees are equipped with knowledge on how to enter this new phase of life and still utilise their knowledge to continue having an impact in a manner most fulfilling to them.
When speaking about strategy for the aging workforce, we are referring more to initiatives that organisations have put in place to celebrate the service of their aging workforce that is about to retire. Generally organisations have succession planning as their core strategy that is supposed to ensure that the exiting of particular employees does not leave a gap in the organisation and that there are no hiccups with usual operations of the organisation caused by the retirement of key employee. When this is valid, most organisations still haven’t been able to view the broader picture of enabling a platform in which the ageing employees within the organisation could then share their long time experiences and knowledge together with their successors and other various employees within the organisation.
The facilitation of knowledge transfer is a crucial component that should be integrated in an organisation’s aging workforce strategy. The “know-how” of the grey beards should be seen as a key ingredient that could accelerate learning and ensure business continuity in the organisation. For organisations that are yet to assemble their aging workforce strategy or those who wish to strengthen their existing strategies, The Narrative lab offers Wisdom Continuity as a mechanism to ensure that your strategy encompasses the facilitation of knowledge transfer. Wisdom Continuity is a narrative-based offering that helps individuals, teams and organisations harness their knowledge and co-creates novel and engaging ways of transferring that knowledge through the power of stories and conversation.