Knowledge transfer is the process of leveraging the expertise of your skilled team members to the entire team or company. The goal of knowledge transfer is to improve the overall performance and productivity of your business. Knowledge transfer is especially critical if you work in skilled trades where expertise and technical skills are essential to the success of the business.
It is not surprising that skilled trades companies struggle with knowledge transfer. Many companies believe that their experienced workers will stay in the company indefinitely; however, this is no longer the case. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.2 million Baby Boomers are expected to retire by 2022, leading to a significant loss of skilled workers. The great challenge for these organizations is to ensure that their knowledge and expertise acquired over decades are not lost with the employees.
Besides the tremendous loss of intellectual capital, the cost of recruiting and training new employees can be prohibitive. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital report, a company spends about 21% of an employee’s salary to replace them. Additionally, it may take several months or years before a fresh recruit becomes proficient in the role. This loss of time and money is unnecessary and can be prevented by prioritizing knowledge transfer.
Moreover, knowledge transfer can enhance the company’s overall performance. With a well-implemented knowledge transfer plan, employees can learn new and vital information on a regular basis. This new information can help them to develop new ways of performing their duties, providing innovative approaches to problems, and equipping them to handle unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, when new employees join the company, they can benefit from the wealth of knowledge present in the experienced workers, increasing their learning speed and efficiency.
Another added bonus of prioritizing knowledge transfer is the creation of a culture of learning. When employees are encouraged to share their knowledge, experiences and technical skills with their colleagues, they feel valued and appreciated by the company. They also feel motivated to learn more and acquire new skills, resulting in a more innovative and efficient workforce.
How can companies prioritize knowledge transfer?
Adequate documentation of processes, policies, and procedures is essential to effective knowledge transfer. This documentation should be detailed and regularly updated. It should be easily accessible by all employees, whether they are new to the company or have been working for several years.
2. Training and Mentoring
Training and mentoring programs are crucial to the success of knowledge transfer. Mentoring is particularly effective, as it enables the experienced worker to pass on knowledge and skills, and provides the novice with guidance and support. Training programs must be tailored to specific roles and should be regularly updated to cover new techniques, processes, and emerging trends.
Incentives can help to motivate employees to participate in knowledge transfer activities. Rewards could be bonuses, promotions, or recognition of their efforts. Encouraging workers to share their knowledge with colleagues can help to create a supportive and friendly culture that permeates throughout the company.
Skilled trades businesses must prioritize the recruitment of new employees who are willing to learn and want to contribute to the growth and success of the company. The recruitment process should also focus on finding employees who fit into the company’s culture, values, and ethos.
Effective knowledge transfer in skilled trades is critical to the success and sustainability of the business. With the retirement of Baby Boomers, it is more critical than ever before that companies prioritize knowledge transfer to ensure continued success. Effective knowledge transfer strategies can improve overall performance, reduce training costs, and create a culture of learning. Prioritizing knowledge transfer through documentation, training and mentoring, incentives, and recruitment must become a top priority for organizations.