Losing Key Individuals: Talent Loss

Forget power outages, network outages and terrorist activity.  What happens to your business when you lose key individuals?  Has your organisation got good enough knowledge management provisions covered in your contingency plans?

While no one is indispensable, every organisation has key individual’s they’d struggle to manage without if there wasn’t a good handover of responsibilities and knowledge before they departed.  It isn’t for nothing that knowledge management is often listed as the hardest of all continuity issues.

In 2012, Vodafone published the results of a survey of 615 managers across organisations in the UK.  Key findings included:

  • 20% of employees are actively considering moving jobs in the next year
  • 29% of employers see this as a significant concern

These aren’t inconsiderable numbers when you compare it to the 36% who list fire or flood as a key concern – even if it is lesser than the 59% who worry about IT failures.  However, we have to wonder whether more people worry about IT and fires and floods because they are more visible to us in our everyday.  After all, how many companies really keep a register (secret or otherwise) of staff they’d really, really prefer not to lose).

Replacing staff can be expensive. Not just in terms of recruiting, training and ‘bedding-in time’ costs, but also in terms of lost knowledge.  This is particularly noticeable in technical or engineering departments where some individuals may have decades worth of knowledge about the way things work that is practically impossible to hand over with any great elegance.  While it’s true that organisations may want to work harder to manage knowledge, most of us have experienced the utter lack of activity around creating a wiki or manual regarding systems or processes that occur every day; often even those that are created are then left to go our of date on a shelf.  We’ll say it again: knowledge management is hard.

However, according to Vodafone’s survey, 90% of organisations with more than 250 employees have business continuity plans; 80% with 50 – 249 staff have plans; 40% of those with less than 10 employees also have plans.  We have to confess this is more than we thought would be the case.

But how many of them include knowledge management issues around the loss of key talent?

This short video, which we’ve shown you before, demonstrates the point with a touch of humour:


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