My company just had a party honoring a large cadre of people who have been here for 25 or more years -- this group is over 10% of the employee base. Many of these people are leaving the company as it closes Chicago operations. Is there any chance that the company can do something to ensure that it retains as much of their expertise and knowledge as possible?
Knowledge retention is a topic that comes up in a lot of discussions of knowledge management. The primary concern being how to tap the brains of employees who are retiring, moving on to new jobs or otherwise leaving the company.
Similar to the situation described above, a typical typical question I hear is, "Several long-time employees are retiring in a month, and I have been asked to do exit interviews to make sure they tell us everything they know." Unfortunately, this is far too late to start a new program of this nature. Certainly the company can ask people to clean and organize their files and walk people through some of their work processes. But to truly learn from employees, organizations must have knowledge sharing programs that cover everyone from the grizzled old-timer to the greenhorn.
Of course, there is no one way to create "good" knowledge retention. Each organization places importance on different aspects of knowledge. Some organizations need to share interesting ideas, others need to share best practices, others need to work with lessons learned. The list goes on to touch upon nearly every aspect that is classified as knowledge management. It comes back to understanding what is important to the organization: what does it need to successfully compete in its environment? What do the people working with the organization (not just employees - contractors, suppliers, customers, regulators) need to meet their needs?