Knowledge retirement risk analysis

Knowledge is ever more important for businesses around the world. Knowledge continuity is threatened by employee turnover and retirement. Business leaders and executives are quite often surprised by the effect on available knowledge when an expert leaves the organization. As a business leader, you don’t want to be surprised by critical knowledge leaving your organization.

Recently we made this “Knowledge retirement risk analysis” for a 200+ employee department of a larger organization. We ran a bottom-up knowledge inquiry using the GuruScan Knowledge Booster solution and added the age information to the individual experts. The resulting knowledge graph had more than 400 knowledge topics and close to 1000 experts (also outside the department).

vIn the analysis we grouped employees in groups to represent how close they were to retirement; red = close retirement and green = far from retirement. We also distinguished critical experts (larger spheres) from non-critical experts (smaller spheres).

Of all the employees close to retirement; only seven appeared to be critical experts. The group of three indicated with 1 is the core of the knowledge network. These three people have a lot of knowledge and are a valuable resource for the department and organization. To ensure knowledge continuity and mitigate this retirement risk, a mentoring program has been setup to transfer knowledge from these three experts to the (surrounding) younger experts; particularly the young expert (in green) to their right.

vThe second critical group is in the lower left of the network graph (2). This knowledge cluster also has more younger experts already in place. To ensure knowledge continuity, HR and leadership executed a retention plan for the surrounding younger experts. Hereby they made sure of retaining his field of expertise, even after retirement of the current important experts.

All of the other employees close to retirement appeared to be non-critical, which was the biggest relieve to the leadership. Instead of worrying about all retiring employees, leadership is now able to focus on coping with the important ones.

How do you manage knowledge retirement risks?