Retirees walk out the door taking their IP with them

Older employees facing retirement walk out the door and take their intellectual property (IP) with them, contributing to a severe competitive advantage problem likely to worsen over the next decade.

An Accenture survey released last week of Australian workers between the age of 40 and 50 found 36 percent had left organizations that had no formal workplace knowledge management systems or processes in place which could capture the retiresss' intrinsic business-specific knowledge.

Catriona Bush, Accenture human performance practice partner, said this poses a distinct competitive disadvantage.

"With almost a third of all employed Australians between 45 and 64 years old, there is a significant loss of organizational knowledge looming over the next 10 to 15 years," Bush said.

"These results suggest that organizations need to recognize the potential decrease in efficiency and increase in costs associated with the loss of institutional knowledge.

"With more than a third of workers expecting to move to different jobs before retirement and a high percentage of workers expecting their replacements to come from external sources, organizations will need to review their capability-building, employee-support and succession-planning activities."

Almost half of the 150 organizations that took part in the survey hired retired employees back as contractors.

Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed will leave their organizations without transferring any business knowledge at all. Only 24 percent said they expected an intensive process of knowledge transfer before retirement, which generally continues over a number of months, while 35 percent said they expected such a process to last one or two weeks with 16 percent engaging in a small, informal discussion.

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