Learning by individuals in an organizational context is a well understood process. This is the traditional domain of human resources, including activities such as: training, increasing skills, work experience, and formal education. Given that the success of any organization is founded on the knowledge of the people who work for it, these activities will and, indeed, must continue. However, individual learning is only a prerequisite to organizational learning.
Others take it farther with continuous learning. The world is orders of magnitude more dynamic than that of our parents, or even when we were young. Waves of change are crashing on us virtually one on top of another. Change has become the norm rather than the exception. Continuous learning throughout one’s career has become essential to remain relevant in the workplace. Again, necessary but not sufficient to describe organizational learning.
Knowledge transfer in the fields of Organizational development and organizational learning, is the practical problem of getting a packet of knowledge from one part of the organization to another (or all other) parts of the organization. It is considered to be more than just a communications problem. If it were merely that, then a memorandum, an e-mail or a meeting would accomplish the knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer is more complex because
1. knowledge resides in organizational members, tools, tasks, and their sub networks and
2. much knowledge in organizations is tacit or hard to articulate.
When a business loses employees, it loses skills, experience and “corporate memory”. The magnitude and nature of these losses is a critical management issue, affecting productivity, profitability, and product and service quality. For employers, high turnover can negatively affect employment relationships, morale and workplace safety. The cost of replacing workers can be high, the problems associated with finding and training new employees can be considerable, and the specific workplace-acquired skills and knowledge people walk away which can take years to replace.
The problem of turnover can be addressed through a variety of pro-active retention strategies: workplace policies and practices which increase employee commitment and loyalty. Knowledge transfer initiatives on the other hand, ensure that the knowledge and expertise of a company’s employees—its ‘corporate memory’—are systematically and effectively shared among employees. They can offset the negative impact of turnover, but can also work pro-actively to reduce turnover by providing learning and skills development opportunities to employees – factors known to reduce turnover.
One key factor in employee motivation and retention is the opportunity employees want to continue to grow and develop job and career enhancing skills. In fact, this opportunity to continue to grow and develop through training and development is one of the most important factors in employee motivation.
So what can a company do to avoid seeing valued employees walk out the door? Offer bigger salaries? More benefits?
Fortunately, such “big ticket” expenditures are not necessarily the top priority to employees. In today’s still uncertain job market, employees are likely to be more interested in job satisfaction and growth. For corporations, that means investing in them—providing employees with tools that will help them improve their job skills and manage their career paths.
Compensation Association, training and development opportunities rank as one of the most important predictors of retention. It makes sense, after all, that training and retention rates are linked by offering training programs, employers show their employees that they are interested in keeping their company- and its employees- on the cutting edge of their field. Employees feel valuable and stay with the company. They also see that, through training, they will continue to move forward and advance their careers.
Employees want to advance their career with greater opportunities for training and career development. Providing a set of tools to develop the leadership and management skills to employees will provide immediate and long-term benefits to business. It should be a major step in employee retention strategy.
When you provide training to your supervisors and managers, they will be receiving training and career development which they want and need. Their sense of advancement and skills will lead to increased productivity for them and their team. They will have more fulfilling work and are less likely to leave your company. This provides an immediate benefit to your bottom line – reduced employee turnover!
Training benefits employers and employees alike. Employers can be sure that their employees are abreast of the latest trends and advances, while employees are rewarded with a competitive edge and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that one is a valuable employee. If employers demonstrate a genuine interest in their employees, employees are likely to stick around.