Shifting the Learning Curve: Ramp Up Faster to Retain Employees
It’s a problem plaguing companies across most, if not all, industries: the loss of institutional knowledge when a seasoned vet retires. The person you’ve had on the job for decades gets their gold watch, has a retirement party and walks out of your door for the last time… and takes everything they’ve learned on the job with them. That knowledge is gold to companies, and the loss of it can be devastating. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the lack of knowledge transfer when an experienced worker retires can cost individual companies $47 million per year “due to time wasted, missed opportunities, frustration and delayed projects.”
Manufacturing is especially hard hit by this, because its workforce is aging and younger people aren’t coming in to fill in those ranks. IndustryWeek reports that 54% of U.S. manufacturers are finding it difficult to attract skilled workers to get the job done. That’s up from 38% before the pandemic. But, it’s not just a manufacturing issue. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. That’s a lot of great employees looking at retirement.
All of that said, the loss of institutional knowledge isn’t just an age issue. It’s also a generational turnover rate issue. Compared to Boomers, younger workers are on the job for a nanosecond before moving on. The average millennial tenure on the job is 2.9 years. For Gen Z, it’s even less: 2.3 years. The “Great Resignation” following the pandemic didn’t help matters, when people who could leave the workforce, did. They still are. In February 2023, 4 million people left their jobs. The one-two punch of older workers retiring and high turnover rate among younger workers has created a knowledge gap crisis.
The solution? Companies need to have rock-solid foundational training that covers key processes in their operations, written on stone tablets if necessary. It requires a shift in a company’s learning curve, and many simply don’t know where to start. That’s where USC comes in.
How USC helps companies shift the learning curve
Those are the stats and facts about the loss of institutional knowledge. We’ve seen it play out on the shop floor in many of the companies we partner with. Companies that didn’t have simple, well-documented processes lost capability, capacity and quality as their experienced workforce left. It resulted in companies playing catch-up in terms of time, money and employee turnover.
This doesn’t just affect the shop floor. Junior and mid-level managers lost mentors and leaders who might have been there to show them the ropes. We’ve seen frustrated, disengaged, underdeveloped employees leave companies as quickly as they’re hired.
It has resulted in USC developing a closed loop Training Management process that documents and maintains standardized operator work instructions, quickly ramps and levels employee knowledge, encourages employee engagement, and promotes leadership development.
The objectives? Here’s what we’re looking to accomplish:
- Document operator level processes and standard work using a closed loop system that facilitates change management and training.
- Implement a training management system to keep track of who is and who is not trained.
- Retain employees through leadership engagement and demonstrating your investment in their performance and development.
Deliverables include all of the above, along with a detailed timeline for standard operating procedures development and training.
Our approach is designed to accelerate and deliver sustainable change while engaging your people and bringing focus, clarity and transparency to organizational effectiveness.
It includes a Rapid Assessment Analytics Phase and an Implementation Phase. Here’s how it works:
Learn and Collaborate
With leadership, we explore key issues and opportunities in order to articulate the vision of the project.
In this stage, we find the gaps and align with leadership on goals.
With key players, we develop a roadmap and a detailed execution plan. We determine the changes we need to implement and do triage to knock out quick wins to move the project along.
Execute and Sustain
This is where the rubber meets the road. We mobilize stakeholders and implement the solution. It requires ongoing training and coaching, weekly reviews, and a study of ROI and benefits.
As with every project we undertake, our training management approach does NOT include us swooping in and making pronouncements of how things should be. Instead, we engage with your people to create a blueprint that’s unique to your company.
Training Management Project Approach
We aim to drive significant value on two fronts, the “just do it” phase to drive immediate value, and the “change the game” phase to drive sustainable outcomes and long-term value. It includes
- Employee engagement: If people don’t buy into the process, it’s never going to stick.
- Leadership engagement: Involvement with HR, Ops and Training managers is critical.
- Leadership training: We’re not going to be onsite forever. Leaders need to become trainers for this to sustain. We empower people but provide ongoing support.
Yes, a lot of this can sound like “consultant-speak.” What it boils down to, in plain English, is keeping your operations humming along on all cylinders even if every experienced employee on your line suddenly walks out of the door. It’s about identifying your core processes and procedures — what needs to happen to keep the place running. Documenting those procedures, and then creating and providing solid training to employees and higher ups. Sometimes that can involve getting to the heart of what IS NOT in any training manual, those invaluable nuggets of institutional knowledge your people have developed over years on the job.
To learn more about how you can shift your learning curve to retain your employees, give us a call today.