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Tribal Knowledge is a Terrible Thing to Lose

By 2025, nearly 25 percent of the United States population is expected to be 60 years of age or older. With this demographic preparing to exit the workforce and enter retirement, what can be done to retain their knowledge and pass it down to the next generation of employees? After all, a good portion of the knowledge that our “employee elders” possess is not written down or stored within a computer—it’s stored in their head.

group-of-welders

Your veteran employees have decades worth of valuable information and hands-on experiences, and losing this knowledge can be damaging to any organization. Here are some of the positive effects preserving tribal knowledge can have:

  • Maintaining competitive advantage. Construction processes, operating methods, and safety tips can be a unique differentiator from others within the same  industry.
  • Driving innovation. By taking a look at the old way of doing things, a small business owner may be able to find newer, more effective, and more efficient ways of doing things.
  • Teaching the next generation. New hires, without the benefit of tribal knowledge, are unable to fill the shoes of the person they replaced. The construction industry is so new to most younger generations that there are many skills few new workers can be expected to have.

Even during the best of times companies have employee turnover. The most competitive companies are proactive about celebrating the most experienced workers and nurturing the new. Here at CAHill TECH, as we began building our digital library, we discovered a few keys to successfully capturing tribal knowledge and delivering an efficient skill sharing network.

Identifying Knowledge Gatekeepers

Don’t be caught off guard when a key employee’s career wraps up. Don’t let the skill walk away with them! There are numerous simple methods for capturing even the most complex operations and procedures. Your grey haired workers- they hold the key to decades of pro tips, better ways of doing it and risk reducing tricks. At CAHill TECH, we have tried and true methods of helping them to teach the next generation the easy way, rather than someone having to learn it the hard way.

Analyze, Digitize, and Distribute

Once you know what is out there and have begun to capture it, use our readily available technology to share it widely across your organization. Smartphones and iPads are EVERYWHERE- use them to proactively engage employees, promote collaboration, and expand tribal knowledge. This has the added benefit of leading to organic development of a stronger company culture, something that is always attractive to the new generation of millennials entering the workforce.

Our eLearning system aQuiRe© is designed specifically for the construction workspace. Our approach keeps it simple by:

  • helping you recognize your veterans by featuring them as SMEs in modules
  • putting tribal knowledge in the palm of the hand, available anytime/anywhere
  • providing a career path that instills confidence for new workers 
  • empowering workers to develop their own certifications 

Knowledge is a terrible thing to waste. Tribal knowledge, perhaps even more so—because when it’s gone, it’s lost forever. Before another valuable company veteran walks off your job site, let us help you learn everything you can from them. You won’t have another chance, and you won't regret making the effort.