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How To Effectively Manage Worker Knowledge

How To Effectively Manage Worker Knowledge

Monster has conducted a nationwide study of 550 Human Resources (HR) managers to discover their attitudes, challenges and methods for managing worker knowledge. The ability to effectively manage worker knowledge is becoming a critical core competency in an era when knowledge is the primary resource for delivering organizational value.

With the Baby Boomer generation poised for retirement, concern is growing that this primary source of knowledge will strain organizations with “Brain Drain.” This issue is compounded by successive generations that are proportionally smaller and not positioned to readily replace the knowledge of a retiring generation.

Monster research sought to better understand what level of awareness U.S. companies have of this coming “Brain Drain” and what they are doing to prepare for it.

Key Findings

Monster research found that many organizations recognize the threat of losing a substantial number of workers to retirement over the coming 10 to 20 years. One third of firms report that over 20% or more of their workforce is eligible to retire over the next 10 years. Other key findings include:

  • Senior management is acutely aware of the importance of organizational knowledge and its value to the firm. Two thirds of senior managers indicate that knowledge retention and management is somewhat to very important to their firms.
  • The high level of organizational awareness and management concern regarding organizational knowledge is disconnected with firms’ strategy. More organizations are focused on the short-term impact of losing knowledge to a competitive market rather than the long-term strategic threat of an organizational “Brain Drain.” And only a few firms indicated that their organizations had any sense of priority or urgency to respond to this growing threat of “Brain Drain.”
  • Only 20% of firms indicated having a formal strategy to actively manage and preserve their organizational knowledge. Many HR managers cited that they do not see a need for such a formal strategic plan and that they manage organizational knowledge informally. However, such an informal level of planning does not appear to be effective.
  • While over half of HR managers cite that their firms are somewhat effective in formally distributing their organizational knowledge, just 14% said they are very effective. And these levels of effectiveness are only slightly less than the effectiveness cited on the informal distribution of knowledge.
  • About one-third of firms have integrated the distribution of knowledge into their reward system to incent employee participation. However, many HR managers cite that employees’ are loath to share knowledge given that it is a primary source of organizational power.

Managing Organizational Knowledge

Monster research revealed that a primary challenge to actively managing organizational knowledge is a firm’s ability to identify its critical knowledge. Only 23% of firms cited a formal method for this purpose. Other key challenges for formally managing organizational knowledge include:

  1. Measuring the program's effectiveness (43%)
  2. Measuring the ROI (41%)
  3. Identifying the best knowledge retention techniques (40%)
  4. Lack of planning (40%)
  5. Resources (38%)

In addition, current methods and tools to manage organizational knowledge do not appear to be highly effective. Email, company meetings, common hard drives and documentation are cited as effective methods for managing knowledge by only one-third of firms. Given the cited value of organizational knowledge, one could expect many more firms to be using more effective knowledge management solutions.

While HR managers cited many challenges to actively managing their organizational knowledge, these could be summarized by firms simply lacking the formal know-how of knowledge management. That is, firms appear to have a want for formal methods, best practices, benchmarks and tools for organizational knowledge management. Perhaps most important, given its strategic value, firms must consider a Chief Knowledge Officer to be ultimately responsible for the management and protection of a firm’s most valuable asset.

The chasm that exists between a firms’ most valuable asset, knowledge, and the lack of formal management of this asset represents key opportunities for organizations to gain a competitive edge. Firms must identify the following:

  • What their critical knowledge is
  • Where their critical knowledge resides
  • How to preserve and redistribute their critical knowledge to where it has the most value

Companies that understand these basic issues truths about their critical knowledge will likely succeed and prosper in a global economy that’s based on knowledge.

Courtesy of Monster Intelligence.