The great resignation: Is your knowledge safe?

A growing challenge for many organisations is a lack of knowledge management. Research by Visier has found that the number of resignations among people aged between 40 and 60 increased by 35% from 2021 to 2022. And to make matters worse, it’s the longer-serving, more experienced employees who have left – with the number of resignations among employees who had been with their employer for longer than 10 years increasing by 64% over the last year.

Without the correct culture in place, knowledge is power, and employees will hoard information as a means to remain relevant and employable. However, as these individuals exit the business, so does the expertise that they possessed – leaving employers blindsided by an exodus of knowledge that they’re unable to recoup or replace.

But why are so many employees resigning? ManpowerGroup research has found that 49% of workers would move organisation for better wellbeing support, while 64% want their daily work to better society. They also discovered that 45% of employees want the ability to choose start and end times, while 35% want fully flexible workplace options. A failure to meet the needs of their workforce has exacerbated talent retention struggles for many businesses, as seven in ten workers have admitted that seeing colleagues resign makes them consider quitting themselves.

So what can business leaders do to retain their workforce and more effectively manage the knowledge within their organisation?

Four key aspects of an effective knowledge management system

Understanding what knowledge and skills are available within the workforce is critical to business success, and our research tells us that there are four key areas organisational leaders should focus their attention on in order to create an environment where knowledge is effectively managed.

Culture – Research suggests that having the right culture in place is the most important aspect of a successful knowledge management system. A good culture fosters engagement and provides employees with a sense of belonging. Without it, employees struggle to find meaning in their work and have been seen to mentally check-out – doing just the bare minimum to avoid being sacked. These individuals are then far less likely to proactively share their knowledge with the wider business as they perceive it to be beyond the requirements of their role.

The solution? Ensuring line managers are sufficiently trained to build a connection with their team members. When properly upskilled and developed, managers can conduct ongoing career conversations with their direct reports; enabling them to maintain employee engagement, explain how each individual fits within the business, and identify when someone is unhappy or looking to leave. This then allows the organisation to plan more effectively and avoid critical knowledge losses.

Flexibility – More than ever, employees are looking for flexibility in their work to manage the other elements of their life. A new global study found that 1 in 3 remote workers say they would have stayed at their old job if they had better remote working options. Plus, 83% of remote workers report feeling more motivated by their flexibility at work.

So, with 3 in 4 workers wanting to feel motivated and passionate about their job, and a definitive correlation between flexibility and improved motivation and engagement, it makes sense to provide employees with the autonomy they’re looking for – especially as it’s likely to result in them being far happier to impart knowledge to colleagues and the wider business.

Clarity – When trying to ensure knowledge is effectively managed within an organisation, it’s crucial that there’s clarity around what is expected of employees. Are they aware of their responsibility to share knowledge and information? And do they understand what the repercussions are if they fail to do so?

In order to ensure this level of understanding is in place, effective onboarding is essential. Employees need clarity on their role requirements, and to be made aware of the data and systems that should be maintained, as soon as they enter the business. When detailed onboarding has taken place, employees will be far better equipped to utilise and maintain knowledge systems throughout their tenure, and actively help the business retain critical expertise.

Investment – Finally, it’s important to remember that effective knowledge management cannot occur without investment in both people and systems. However, 67% of workers say there is no written plan in place with their employer to map their professional development. Without the opportunities to upskill and develop; employees won’t be able to use the ever-evolving technology that is required for knowledge management, and will feel far more inclined to seek alternative employment where their development is supported.

Therefore, business leaders need to ensure each employee is trained to use all existing and incoming technology on a rolling basis, ensuring nobody falls behind the curve. Peer and reverse mentoring schemes would also prove a wise investment, acting as social opportunities where employees can collaborate with one another – ensuring key knowledge is never monopolised by a single individual and is instead, shared widely throughout the organisation.


If you’d like further insight into the ways in which businesses can manage knowledge and retain talent, watch our free webinar today.