When an employee leaves the company, he or she can leave big shoes to fill. As an employer, you can avoid lost productivity and gaps in client service by putting intentional processes in place to transfer knowledge and experience to a replacement.
Consider Collaborative Knowledge Sharing Tools
In one analysis, Deloitte found that while some workers may feel more job security guarding their specialized knowledge, organizations should cultivate a culture of sharing that makes employees feel comfortable opening up about the work they do.
Organizing internal knowledge communities, networks and hubs is a best practice for breaking down silos and promoting collaboration. By openly sharing knowledge through digital platforms, knowledge management systems and daily workflows, employees have a greater understanding of how to complete tasks and fulfill roles when an employee leaves.
Collect Key Information About Job Duties from Each Employee
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) advises routinely asking key questions of each employee to capture organizational knowledge. Such questions will uncover:
- Functions and roles most critical to business operations.
- Exclusive knowledge maintained by specific people and departments.
- Essential tools employees need to do their jobs.
- Skills required for each job and an assessment of current employees’ skills.
Knowledge capture should occur year-round and not just when an employee leaves. Group meetings, lunch & learns, debriefings and focus groups are good opportunities to collect knowledge and share company best practices and skills.
Use Shadowing and Cross-Training
SHRM also points out that there’s a difference between the knowledge of how to perform a job procedurally and the knowledge of how to navigate thorny challenges that come up in the workplace, such as interacting with certain customers or coworkers. It can be difficult to document the latter, so shadowing is a beneficial way to glean information through observation.
Cross-training involves teaching employees specific tasks or skills usually done by others. It not only helps employees build their skill sets; it fills in gaps when an employee leaves, is out sick or on vacation.
Marathon HR advises not waiting until the exit interview to collect a departing employee’s knowledge and experiences working for your business. Instead, periodically request employees make a list of the 25 things they do and detail how each task is performed or expected to be performed. As a best practice, we also recommend maintaining up to date written job descriptions and documented policies and procedures, as well as identifying backup personnel in advance of anyone leaving.