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Guide helps companies prepare for knowledge transfer as boomers retire

By On-Site Magazine   

Construction Skills Development boomers knowledge transfer management retain retirement skills

Apprenticeship Mobility Protocol opens doors for workers to move freely throughout Canada The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table (the Skills Table) has released a practical guide to help companies retain and transfer business-critical and experience-based knowledge as baby boomers reach retirement age and exit the workforce.

Management Attrition & Critical Knowledge Transfer: A Human Resource Practitioner’s Guide highlights that knowledge transfer efforts often occur when employees announce their intention to retire, which is usually too late for employers to effectively transfer expertise acquired over decades. The guide suggests that by getting ahead of the curve, employers immediately put themselves in a better position to face attrition head on, which is valuable both in case of retirement and for employers who lose experienced employees in a competitive job market.

“Strategic planning and a structured approach to knowledge transfer can make a significant impact to a company’s productivity and profitability,” said Krista Bax, executive director, Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table. “We developed the guide for the many human resource leaders who have said they do not feel adequately prepared to address knowledge transfer for retiring workers. The guide lays out considerations and principles to develop and implement a concrete plan to guide companies through the changes.”

Since attrition due to retirement affects companies differently, there is no cookie-cutter approach to knowledge transfer. However, all companies are at risk of experiencing negative impacts if they fail to prepare, and most have existing processes that can be leveraged to enable the transfer of knowledge.


Prepare to succeed

The guide provides a framework of strategies and tools that human resource practitioners can refer to when developing their company’s overall strategy in preparation for the retirement wave. A step-by-step approach to critical knowledge transfer is provided and includes questions and considerations for each step.

To help manage the oncoming generational shift, the guide suggests defining the extent and urgency of the problem to clarify a company’s risks. For example, an assessment of the retiring expert could bring to light that not all knowledge is business-critical. It also advises that building systems and processes to facilitate knowledge transfer is vital to success, noting that company culture can either assist or inhibit a knowledge transfer effort.

“This guide provides practical steps to help deconstruct a challenge many firms are facing,” said Sandi Case, vice-president of Human Resources for the Port of Vancouver, Skills Table Board Member and member of the study’s Project Committee. “With a few targeted strategies and the language to talk about knowledge transfer, companies are better-prepared for the retirements of key personnel.”

Eight case studies of firms in British Columbia ranging in size from less than 100 to more than 500 employees were performed to develop the guide. The firms were a cross-section of privately held, government-funded and public-private partnership organizations representing different industries such as design and engineering, construction, shipping, transportation and tourism and trade.

The project was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.


For more information and to access Management Attrition & Critical Knowledge Transfer: A Human Resource Practitioner’s Guide, visit:


SOURCE Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table



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