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When Your Employees Retire, How Will You Replace Them?

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Salesman in warehouse at skilled trades distributor as part of retiring workforce

Train Those Who Need to Know Before You Feel the Pinch.

There is a seismic shift occurring in the United States as Baby Boomers age and retire – resulting in a mass exodus from the workforce.

For any organization this can be a concerning trend, even more so in the skilled trades.

Since younger generations already see skilled trades work as undesirable, dirty, and low-paid, there are fewer workers than ever to replace this vital workforce in a company.

Who will replace your high-performing counter sales people when your sales leaders retire? Who will replace your warehouse workers and their decades of on-the-job product knowledge? Who will step in for your head of purchasing – who knows your business inside and out? Distributors across a number of industries just cannot find the skilled people to fill these positions anymore.

If you can’t find knowledgeable people with the existing skill set to hire as replacements, the tribal knowledge contained in the heads of this retiring workforce becomes a precious commodity to your company. How do you keep (and spread) this knowledge within your organization, and especially make it available to new hires?

An online training program is the best solution for this scenario. By having a comprehensive program that also provides career pathing, it expands the possibilities for a hiring match for any job position you are looking to fill. An inside sales person can be hired by looking at applicants who perhaps do not have a great deal of experience in the field – and yet have the core personal qualities that fit with the organization, paired with a desire to learn on the job and to work in sales. A purchasing position can be filled by looking for someone scrupulously honest, detail-oriented, and interested in supply chain dynamics. A counter salesperson could be groomed from someone personable, talkative,with a good memory – and hungry for self-improvement. Again, the common denominator: a quality fit for your organizational values, and a desire to learn.

By expanding your search criteria for good people instead of good employees, the hiring process can be made that much easier.

When you add an LMS to your organization and use it as a repository for fleeing tribal knowledge, what needs to be known stays within the company…instead of departing with your former employees. And the value of an LMS trickles down to all employees in the company – not just the replacements. Imagine if you could develop an employee’s career from entry-level all the way to their retirement. If you could promise to invest in your employee and back it up with a predefined training track for your employee’s career goals…what loyalty will that investment inspire in your new hire?

With a retiring workforce, companies have no choice but to look at millenials to fill these positions. However, unlike previous generations, millenials are increasingly asking: what opportunity for advancement exists at your company? How does technology help me in my job? And what can you do for me? Many millenials will in fact take jobs that will allow them to grow and learn…even if the pay is lower.

According to an annual survey by Accenture of soon-to-graduate college seniors and graduates, around 80% expect to be formally trained by their first employer, but 52% of professionals who graduated from college within the past two years say they received no training in their first job. An investment in training is an investment in keeping your employees (especially millenials) and earning their loyalty.

Many companies fear what would happen if you make the investment, spend the time, and train the person…and they leave?

We ask: what happens if you do NOT train the person – and they stay?

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One response to “When Your Employees Retire, How Will You Replace Them?

  1. Great post – I think it’s a very good use case for LMS’. Actually, I’d also love to see some kind of social learning taking place between the newly retired employee and the replacements – it could really get creative juices flowing.

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