Aug 26, 2019
The aging of the United States working population means a swell in retirements in approaching years. Here's how to save all that accumulated knowledge and leadership experience in-house following their departure.
Baby boomers arrived at a peak size of 66 million in the workforce in 1997 — the greatest generation of employees ever — but have since decreased to 41 million as of 2017, based on information from the Pew Research Center.
As one generation contracts, another one grows. Millennials (those born between the years 1981-96) took over as the work force’s biggest age group in the center of this decade and totaled 56 million in 2017.
With more and more boomers leaving, they’re taking with them long-held beliefs, work styles, and, in many cases, huge amounts of tribal wisdom and safety culture. Losing the former—that particular, often professional, product or method data that is collected inside someone’s brain—is what will be most observed by the organizations they are leaving.
In the construction environment, this information may be as easy as knowing why a weird noise is transmitted when a large piece of expensive machinery needs maintenance. It may be how to do stopgap fixes of important assets using tools, wires, and anything else. It may be a specialist who long ago came up with an intricate software workaround to allow older databases and servers to maintain and interoperate. No one else may ever understand how to retain this system and keep it running without an extravagant extra fix.
It’s in a company’s best interest to seize as much of this wisdom as possible to alleviate the passage to a more modern, more youthful workforce — even if those mechanics don’t buy into the way these processes were previously done.
The outflow of baby boomers and entrance of millennials and soon Generation Z is taking place at the corresponding time as extensive technology innovations influence industries, including the Industry 4.0 modifications. This convergence of results is fated to leave a knowledge hole and, likely, a skills gap moving forward.
Yes, promoting the documentation of methods is intelligent, but doing it via the printed word doesn't quite have the same effect. Older employees commonly don’t like typing instructions and countless younger workers don’t care to pore over pages and pages of actions. Instead, try using videos to distribute information via YouTube, which has established showing people how to do everything. For example, documenting how to produce sensors and software work collectively to give asset conditioning monitoring data can be much more productive with a visual dimension to them. Your videos don’t have to be anything elaborate.
By gathering data and implementing machine education or natural language processing to interpret it for patterns and circumstances, technology is pulling select data out of someone’s brain and making it appear to teams. If you have oil and gas operators writing regular accounts or giving voice recordings that recap exercises, getting them to tag important data using their tribal safety culture can help machine learning integrate the unorganized data and turn it into invaluable insights. Your new younger safety workers expect that this technology can be implemented this way to pass down knowledge.
Oliver Sturrock | Aug 26, 2019 - Baby boomers reached a peak size of 66 million in the workforce in 1997 — the largest generation of workers ever — but have since dwindled to 41 million as of 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Their ages in 2017 ranged from 53 to 71.
As one generation shrinks, another balloons. Millennials (those born between 1981-96) took over as labor force’s largest age group in the middle of this decade and numbered 56 million in 2017.
With more and more boomers retiring, they’re taking with them long-held beliefs, workstyles, and, in many cases, vast quantities of tribal knowledge. Losing the latter—that exclusive, often technical, product or process information that is stored inside someone’s head—is what will be most felt by the companies they are departing.