How to Retain Knowledge and Experience When Staff Leave

All sorts of emotions might greet the news that a member of staff leaving. Nostalgia for the good times, gratitude for their support, or perhaps relief (if they’re that member of staff).

When employees leave, they might also be taking knowledge and experience that are incredibly valuable. It can leave employers with a dilemma – recruit a replacement? Promote from within? Restructure a team to redistribute tasks? The answer often depends on the level and type of work that person carried out.

In the meantime, there are a few steps which might help during the changeover challenge.

Cross-train your team members to cover the bases

You’ve heard of the saying ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket’? If you want your business to absorb as much knowledge as possible, then make sure your eggs are evenly distributed.

It doesn’t necessarily mean staff should be expert in each other’s jobs, but a solid understanding can be helpful.

Cross-training employees enables someone to step in at a suitable standard, in the absence of someone else. It’s not a long-term fix, but it could be what keeps the business fully operational until another solution is found.

Ask them to stay on as a mentor for a short time

Asking a departing member of staff to stick around for mentoring can be pretty handy. Hoping they’ll do this for free isn’t realistic, but perhaps offer a temporary consultancy?

Or, structure their notice period to allow for an appropriate level of handover. The notice period isn’t just about handing over jobs in progress! Use it as a time for knowledge to be transferred, and for skills to be trained directly.

Recruit at the start of their notice period

Speaking of overlapping time, if you’re planning to re-recruit, get on it straight away! That way, you could potentially have a new member of staff in, before the other has even packed their desk up.

This strategic approach to employment (where financially and legally viable) is a great way to streamline the on boarding process and maximise the transfer of knowledge and experience. Obviously, take into consideration the reason they’re leaving though!

Consider freelance support

You might find that some people who are leaving would prefer not to just cut all ties straight away. A gradual departure, such as through part-time hours, might be snapped up.

Being flexible about these sort of arrangements also gives your business more chance of learning from their knowledge, and absorbing it into the remaining workforce.

Do you have any of your own tips and advice on the topic? Leave them in the comments below or come and join the conversation over on Twitter or Facebook.

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible.

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