A DIY TOOLKIT FOR EMPLOYERS TO ADDRESS THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE VERY FLEXIBLE

FLEXIBLE LABOUR MARKET

This two-part Management Report directly supports employers with high staff turnover to address for themselves the downside effects of their short-tenure labour environment.

SECTION 1

EXPLAINS THE OVERLOOKED SHORTCOMINGS, AMONG THEM THE EXTENT AND COST OF WIDESPREAD WORKPLACE DISRUPTION, THE IMPORTANT KNOWLEDGE LOSS FROM KEY EXITING EMPLOYEES AND THE LINKED POORER DECISION-MAKING THAT ARISES FROM THE HANDS-ON EVIDENCE THAT REPLACEMENTS DON’T INHERIT FROM THEIR EMPLOYER. HOWEVER BETTER QUALIFIED A REPLACEMENT MIGHT BE, A STOP-START AND COLD-START WORKPLACE IS NO PLACE FOR SMOOTH ORGANIC PROGRESS, EVEN FOR INNOVATIVE PROGRESS, WHICH ALSO NEEDS A SUSTAINING ENVIRONMENT TO DEVELOP AND SURVIVE.

SECTION 2

OUTLINES HOW TO CAPTURE YOUR SHORT-, MEDIUM- AND LONG-TERM ORGANISATIONAL MEMORY (OM). AND THEN HOW TO LEARN FROM THIS EXPANDED EVIDENCE BASE TO MORE EFFICIENTLY RESUME ORGANIC GROWTH AND PRODUCTIVITY. IT FOLLOWS THE USE OF EXISTING MEDIUMS THAT ARE POORLY USED IN OTHER APPLICATIONS AS WELL AS THE ACKNOWLEDGED PRINCIPLE OF THE METHODOLOGY KNOWN – AND APTLY NAMED - AS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING (EL), THE REFLECTIVE WAY OF NATURAL LEARNING (SEE BELOW). ALL HAVE BEEN SPECIALLY CUSTOMISED TO SUIT THE MODERN SHORT-TENURE LABOUR MARKET.

THE DAMNING DATA

In the US, the UK and Canada, up to 28% of employees change their employer every year. Tenure averages around five years with top decision-makers among the more mobile – and individuals can expect to have at least 10 (14 in the US) different paymasters in their working lifetime. In addition to the stalling effects of continual staff change, employers are finding themselves with NO long-term memory, NO resident medium-term memory and only a DISCONNECTED short-term memory. Medics have a word for it – dementia.

The outline methodology of the DIY TOOLKIT for employers is:

  • IDENTIFY your main knowledge owners
  • CAPTURE their knowledge & experience before it departs
  • SHARE it with their rolling generations of replacements
  • ENSURE that all employees can better LEARN from it

A first for HR and KM – and the best new HR idea for 50 years

It is a practical, common sense, innovative – and above all serious - solution to a business model that’s doing only half its job. Importantly, it retains the recognised advantage of flexible working, which allows the necessary workplace versatility to better accommodate the fast-changing marketplace.

Notably, it’s the first time that Human Resources (HR) has consciously linked up with the new discipline of Knowledge Management (KM) to solve an unexpected problem that has emerged from a deliberate stratagem. Ensuring that consecutive generations of employees share-to-learn their employers’ knowledge and experience also happens to be the best new idea to come out of HR for at least 50 years.

THE TWO CAPTURE MEDIUMS AND THE MORTAR BOARD

Three little-used practices, all of which have been refined and adapted for business use, are:

The tool-of-choice for capturing short- and medium-term memory is ORAL DEBRIEFING, which is a more sophisticated application of the routine 20-questions Exit Interview. It doubles as the most effective of anti-disruption tools that focuses on the type of knowledge and experience that DOESN’T appear in ordinary emails or other collected documentation.

Delivered by transcript, audio or video, it takes its cue from the example of Pulitzer Prize winner Studs Terkel, who pioneered the medium as a scholastic tool along with US Professor Allan Nivens, who founded the Oral History Collection at Colombia University. Its most celebrated users are the World Bank and the Military. Advice is offered how to persuade staff to cooperate, not least because departing employees generally consider the knowledge and experience they acquire with you as proprietorially theirs. Once captured, it is this knowledge and experience that is passed to replacements after conventional induction.

 

Long-term memory is transmitted through the medium of the traditional CORPORATE HISTORY, whose production is typically unsuitable for effective induction. The DIY TOOLKIT counsels how to overcome its traditional perception as hagiography and how to construct it as a learning tool for induction and management development. Its best time for handover is immediately after contracts of employment are signed by replacements and Day One of tenure.

The big added-value element of the process incorporates US Professor David Kolb’s seminal work around EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING. While other decision-making methodologies continue to use approaches that haven’t yet adapted to self-imposed corporate amnesia, the DIY TOOLKIT’s methodology has been customised to accommodate the widened knowledge base to help replacements make good and better decisions.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

The workplace is where productivity lives and breathes. With flexible working impacting EVERY employer across the entire industrial spectrum continuously, it is as macro-economic as the other corporate resources that the experts have identified as affecting productivity. It is the biggest unacknowledged explanation for our struggling productivity growth – and needs to be attended, starting with individual employers.