What’s so great about the great resignation? The evolving crisis for learning managers

“Baby Boomers Retiring in Droves!”

“Pandemic Drives People into Early Retirement”

“Pandemic is Accelerating Speed to Retirement for Many”

These are fairly common headlines these days. Not panic-inducing in and of themselves, particularly if you’re one of those folks who is riding that trend, but when you couple these events with the following, it begins to paint a challenging picture for those of us entrusted with maintaining the preparedness and capability of the workforce for our respective organizations:

“U.S. Talent Shortage is at a 10 Year High”

Finding Workers Is Harder Than Ever. The Economic Impact Could Be Significant

Business Should Be Booming — If Only There Were Enough Workers For The Job

The issue isn’t one of surprise; we’ve been preparing for the eventual retirement of the Boomer generation for years. Indeed, many of the systems and solutions put into place over the last 5-10 years that changed how and where learning is consumed is a direct response to that. What’s also changed however, is the pace; this is no longer an issue of planning, but execution. And many don’t see that pace slowing as we enter 2022. For many of us, this is our second game-changing moment in as many years, and it begs the question, as to what extent our New Normal will be a string of novel events like this.

Minimizing Potential Impacts

There are two things all Learning Organizations should be doing now to inoculate themselves against the undesirable effects of this evolving concern: 

  1. Engage in knowledge capture with an eye on knowledge transfer
  2. Review and update your onboarding training to adjust to a potential loss of knowledge transfer through Mentoring/Coaching and On-the-Job Training

The first issue is one which we have been addressing for years; the issue is one of widespread ineffectiveness and lack of agreed-upon toolsets. Even back in 2013, when we were preparing for the inevitability of this event, research conducted by TrainingIndustry.com1 cited the perceived ineffectiveness of knowledge transfer during that relatively stable period. 61% of the organizations (n=208) responding to their survey felt that their training organizations were ineffective at transferring knowledge from transitioning employees to their replacements. 61% in 2013! And the learning landscape has become nothing, if not more complex, during the subsequent years.

Another interesting note from this study concerned the best methodologies for training transfer. The most effective means of knowledge transfer:

73% Coaching

64% Job Shadowing

Clearly, two methodologies that will have limited availability in this accelerated replacement curve.

On the upside, there have been vast improvements in knowledge repository structure and utility and the overall user friendliness of desktop practices (47% and 46% respective efficacy). And this drives home the need to re-examine and potentially redesign your onboarding training program. For many organizations, the historical push has been towards less time to a target level of proficiency. Technology, methodology and greater user acceptance of supplemental learning practices have all aided in this goal.

The concern here is that the post-onboarding learning elements are likely to be stressed by these departures and retirements, which will throw off the balance of the entire training design.  With this in mind, it’s time to re-examine the terminal objectives associated with these elements; to create a new sense of balance. It’s the old paradox of having to ‘go slow to go fast’ and may require short term shifts in the learning burden between functions and operations. The important thing at this stage is to recognize and engage now; if recent history has shown us anything it’s that tomorrow will bring even more novel challenges.

Reach Out to RPS

Knowledge capture, onboarding and post-onboarding learning strategies; how do you use these approaches to assure effective knowledge transfer and business continuity?

Contact us RPS’ learning and performance experts today. You can also visit us at RPS.com to learn more.

Is your organization experiencing a ‘great resignation?’ What knowledge capture & transfer approaches have been applied within your organization? What was your experience? Connect with us on LinkedIn, or at @RaytheonRPS using hashtags, #learning, #training, #onboarding and #greatresignation.


1 TrainingIndustry.com. (2013) Can We Really Be That Bad at Knowledge Transfer? Retrieved from https://trainingindustry.com/blog/onboarding/can-we-really-be-that-bad-at-knowledge-transfer.