Federal Managers Think Agencies Aren't Ready For Boomer Exodus - InformationWeek

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Federal Managers Think Agencies Aren't Ready For Boomer Exodus

Sixty-one percent of federal managers say their agencies do not have knowledge management policies to help prepare for the impending brain-drain, according to a recent survey.

Although four out of 10 federal workers will be retiring within five years, most government managers are unaware of whether their agencies have knowledge management plans in place to help with the workforce transition, says a new study.

Sixty-one percent of federal managers say their agencies do not have -- or they are unaware whether they have -- knowledge management policies to help prepare and train staff for the impending brain-drain, according to a recent survey of 171 federal managers conducted by Tandberg, a provider of videoconferencing products and services.

Of the 39% of managers who say their agencies do have knowledge management strategies, 74% say most of their staffs are unaware of those policies.

Organizations "can't afford a single gap of knowledge," said Joel Brunson, president of Tandberg's federal market business. However, when a mass exodus of workers do leave their jobs, "it's about losing day-to-day knowledge, tricks of the trade," and an accumulation of what's been learn over 25 to 35 years, he said.

Organizations often do poor jobs of documenting key information like best practices, operational procedures, important tips, and other details to instruct workers in their jobs -- and once key personnel leave, there's a void in person-to-person communication to pass on that knowledge as well.

While 87% of federal managers say their agencies collect information about official operating processes and procedures, only 37% collect information about how to do things most efficiently.

The lack of knowledge management plans in the federal government mirrors the same lack of urgency seen in the commercial sector to deal with brain drain.

A recent survey by Monster Worldwide found that only 20% of companies have formal strategies to manage and preserve organizational knowledge despite one-in-three companies predicting that more than 20% of their workforce to be eligible for retirement over the next decade.

When it comes to the government managers, 78% say they are somewhat or very concerned about their agencies' current knowledge management processes.

While 82% of the managers say their agencies offer new hire orientations -- and 74% provide technology training to new employees -- training drops off significantly once a person is hired. Only 57% of managers say their agencies provide new process or procedure training to current workers, leaving a potential gap in knowledge and best practices once older workers retire.

Nearly 90% of federal manager say their agencies providing training via classroom set-ups; 69% provide online training; 36% provide video training.

What's on their wish lists for tools to help prepare their workforces for knowledge upheaval? Forty nine percent of federal managers named knowledge management software; video-technology and agency intranet tied with 39% of managers picking one or both; 36% choose Web conferencing; 32% named multi-media search engines; and 9% picked other choices, including bigger travel budgets and improved succession management programs.

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