Brain Drain

brain faucetGuess what? For all the bad mouthing of baby boomers, business and industry need to know what’s in our brains. That’s right, they need us, they really need us.

Er, they need what’s in our brains. Recent articles in business magazines point to a knowledge vacuum as a serious consequence of the exit of baby boomers. Around 900,000 white collar workers will be retiring from the executive branch of government. While the make up 40% of the total workforce, boomers fill more than half the management positions and half the professionals such as doctors and laywers. One article in Business Week went so far as to list 8 steps companies can take to deal with this intelligence attrition.

So, how do they mine our brains to extract our valuable knowledge? They need us to share the rules of engagement. Boomers are documenting their rationales for client/customer relations so that the next generation can pick it up. Creating a database to establish where the most valuable compentencies reside in the organization is another step, and creating a database to collect valuable information goes along with it. It’s also recommended that organizations create a home for the esoteric information that may seem non-essential (until the day comes when you need it). Bridge building between generations may seem obvious, brainbut a lot of companies ignore it at their peril. Some of the best information exchanges occur when boomers are working as a team with the next generation of managers. Social media is another way to get information exchanged, allowing retirees to participate as well in the mining of useful knowledge.

Taking these steps is not just a one time fix for business and industry, but a strategy for the future in which each generation hands off what they know to the next.

Successful businesses will be proactive enough in this effort to guarantee the succession of knowledgeable leadership. Boomers are by no means irreplacable, but companies that don’t mine our skills and competencies will be whistling into the wind when we’re gone. Just try wetting your lips to do that.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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