As Baby Boomers Retire, Companies Fail to Transfer Knowledge

SEATTLE, WA (July 9, 2008) – If experience is the best teacher, most companies are apparently cutting class when it comes to knowledge transfer (KT). According to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), just 29% of responding organizations report that they incorporate retirement forecasts into their knowledge transfer practices, and only a third add "skills gap analysis" into those forecasts. Most companies also admit they do not formally measure the effectiveness of their knowledge transfer practices.

Furthermore, less than half say they train their managers to identify critical skills, and less than one in four managers (23%) are educated in critical skills transfer.

"For all the public gnashing of teeth about the impending retirement of all those knowledgeable, hard-working Baby Boomers, relatively few organizations are doing much about it," says Jay Jamrog, SVP of research at i4cp. "They're going to wind up in a mad bar-the-doors scramble in the near future if they don't start trying to tap the knowledge of their most knowledgeable Boomers."

Training remains the most conventional way to transfer knowledge in organizations, with 82% reporting that training is an ongoing KT practice. This is especially true in larger companies (those with 5,000 or more employees), where more than 90% employ ongoing training. Another top practice cited was coaching, utilized by 55% of all reporting companies, and mentoring programs are used on an ongoing basis by 44% of organizations.

The study also found there is little consensus about which part of the organization handles the management of knowledge transfer initiatives. Forty-one percent say the initiatives are "managed individually by different business sectors," while 39% report the initiatives are handled by corporate and 20% use a combination of corporate and business-sector options to manage knowledge transfer practices.

Looking to the future, the study found that there are a number of up-and-coming practices in use and being considered. "Communities of Practice" are utilized by a third of all responding companies to transfer knowledge, and the use of Webcasts and services such as "Lunch and Learn" and "SharePoint" are on the rise.

The Taking the Pulse: Productivity/Efficiency survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, in May 2008. A total of 118 organizations participated. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest private network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members – among the largest and most respected organizations in the world – access to:
  1. Peers to spark new ideas and prevent "reinventing the wheel,"
  2. Research to enable members to understand current practices and next practices,
  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
  4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit