In India, in the coming years, a significant population of workforce will be retired and will departure with a significant size of knowledge & rich experience which can put the firm at significant risk. Professional nearing retirement age, in age group of 60-65 and above constitutes 35% of the labour market of India. If we are going to lose more than 30% of our experienced professional in the coming years then how we are going to compensate this loss to be a strong competitor as we are. So, a lot of firms are burning their hands to get a solution for preservation of the knowledge and the experiences earned by those experienced professionals. Indian industries like Power, Oil & Gas, most of the PSUs are now foreseeing the consequences of absence of this workforce.
We have been hearing from various organisations that employees are their assets. Despite of this fact employees are not captured as an asset in any organisation’s financial reports. It is quite clear that human capital is far bigger than human resources. There are lots of evidences which show that development of human capital is directly linked to the organisational development. The importance given to human capital depicts that the performance of an organisation is more dependent on human capital than the physical capital. Human capital is not an employee of an organisation; it is aggregation of potential, cognition, accomplishments, work experiences, and motivation of an employee. As an employee gets matured in an organisation which is not only in terms of age but also the knowledge he/she develops over the time. More importantly, it is the unique insight and understood idiosyncrasies about the company that is developed over time which make the learning difficult to replicate or replace when aging employees transfer out of their position or gets retired. It is this combination of explicit and tacit knowledge that mature workers posses with has become the most “strategically significant resource of organization”.
For several years there was no proper definition of knowledge management and the confusion was there due to use of this term in general to manage processes, collecting information and transferring the collective knowledge of a firm. In general, we can define knowledge management is the process to achieve the ultimate goal of the firm by using it while putting some genuine efforts to extract the knowledge which is present in the firm.
Now the firms have realized that the knowledge earned by the older workers must not go out of the firm if they gets retired, it must be transferred to their successors. Experienced employees know about certain solutions of dealing with certain issues which they have learnt with the span of time in the organisation. If this information and experiences gets lost with departure with older workers then the firm will lose their competitive edge in the market. We cannot calculate the quantitative importance of the knowledge bank of this sort of knowledge depository. Experienced/older workers in form of knowledge depository are the most valuable assets of the organisation. So to be remain strong in the market a firm should have some policy or strategy to transfer the knowledge or experience to next generation employees.
As we have understood the requisite for knowledge management or transfer or preservation of knowledge to one generation to next generation, now the issue comes how to transfer or manage or preserve the knowledge. Definitely, various organisations are using various strategies for knowledge transfer/management/preservation due to presence of multi generation population in an organisation and each generation has its own way to grasp the learning. It is also necessary that the knowledge transfer and preservation method whatever has been adopted for a particular generation, must not be used as it is for the different generation. It must be customised as per the attributes of that generation.
The most and current methods for knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing are as below:-
Class Room Teaching, Group Task methods, On job training, Job Shadowing, Rotational Job, Case Studies/Live Project Work, Amalgamation of on job training, job shadowing and live project work, Process based approach, Blogs/Posts, Digitalisation of database or content.
In addition to the methods which have been adopted, the fast pace in the generation has demanded for the requirement of new and diversified method which will be attracting to the population of the latest generation. Hence, one should always an eye over the conversion of the knowledge when it is getting transferred for appropriate use of that knowledge.
It is also very evident that today’s generation is more tech-savvy than the earlier generation. The mentoring can be done in both the ways. Tech-savvy generation can also mentor the older generation in terms of using latest software or technological stuff. The method of bi-directional mentoring can be proved as a remarkable policy for organisations. But the major hurdle for implementation of this strategy is the mindset. As per the general mindset it is really tough. The prime requisite for implementation of bi-directional mentoring is to develop an attitude of equality where power, status and position do not matter.
All energy companies should consider investing in knowledge management platforms that can capture and successfully archive the same in digital format so that the same can be leveraged by the incoming workforce that replace the aging workforce. By doing so, the energy companies wherein demand for skilled workforce is high can compensate to some extent for the human capital that departs post retiral age. Companies like ONGC, RIL, OVL that are active in E&P in Oil and Gas sector need to have structured approach to leverage IT application or digital tools that can capture the knowledge which can be banked on seamlessly across the organization at all levels. Knowledge management should be included as part of every companies policies. The KM initiatives that can be taken by the companies include ERP systems, Intranet, CRM, practices like Kaizen , 6 sigma and TQM, leadership development programs, Communities of Practice, incentivizing employees for knowledge sharing, Center of Excellence. Lessons can be drawn from PGCIL that has formulated a Knowledge management policy. Some initiatives taken under this are forming a virtual KM cell at the corporate center, which has professionals from all the departments, and knowledge mapping of the organization. The company has employed a 100GB memory intranet portal, POWERPORTAL and a database management system has also been installed which has information about employees and their expertise, notices, reports about projects completed and undergoing, new developments in the field and, manuals and e-books.