With Retirement Looming, Help Boomers Share Their Knowledge

As a influx of Millennials (and soon, Generation Z) enter the workforce, a growing percentage of Baby Boomers are exiting it. And as Baby Boomers set off for retirement, they take with them valuable knowledge, lessons, and attributes – all of which current managers would be wise to extract while they still have the chance.

Baby Boomers grew up in a time before the convenience of the Internet. They understand the importance of going the extra mile to get the job done because for the first half of their careers, they didn’t have access to the advanced technology that society has become accustomed to today. Perseverance is generally a strong suit for Baby Boomers, a quality that even the most motivated members of the younger generation can learn from.

However, there is often a divide between generations in offices. Younger and older employees aren’t always keen on getting to know each other on much more than a passing level. With this in mind, current leaders must be proactive in setting up systems to initiate the transfer of knowledge from Baby Boomers to others who may assume their duties in the future.

There are multiple strategies to jump-start this process. One such way is to simply get your older employees more involved in training. Many Baby Boomers are eager and willing to share their expertise, but are not given the opportunity to do so on a regular basis. Similarly, many millennial employees might be interested in learning from their more experienced colleagues, but may not feel comfortable approaching them. A solution to this problem is to ask your resident Baby Boomers to lead discussions, workshops, and even act as mentors to younger staffers.

Developing policies and procedures for all roles in your company is a great way to document jobs and knowledge, regardless of who holds the position.  After all, it’s not just the Boomers – any employee may leave at any time.  It’s important to ensure that there isn’t a single point of failure.  If there is only one employee who has specific knowledge or knows how to do something, that a problem that should be addressed immediately.

It can be beneficial to bring in outside professionals/consultants who specialize in organizational development to not just help facilitate the transfer of knowledge, but figure out exactly what specific skills or pieces of knowledge each Baby Boomer should be imparting, and which individuals would most benefit from learning this information. This way, you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, and are ensuring that actual progress is being made in terms of efficient transfer of knowledge.

If you don’t think your office has the time to fit in these sorts of interpersonal interactions on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to utilize online learning. You can enlist Baby Boomers to write blog posts, host informative webinars, or maintain communication with younger employees via email. Most Millennials are already used to learning and studying through the Internet, so as long as your company’s Baby Boomers are willing to put forth the energy, this can be the least time-consuming way to get them involved.

Baby Boomers can provide leadership and guidance that your younger employees will take with them for the rest of their careers – but time is running out, so don’t hesitate to get the process started!

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