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Overcoming corporate amnesia

Published by , Deputy Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Asset intensive industries are undergoing a rapid generational change in their workforce. The incoming youth face a steep learning curve since their experiences growing up, including their education, have been increasingly digital. Industrial knowledge built on decades of experience has been steadily leaving with the departing baby boomers. These departures started around the turn of the millennium and have accelerated since 2008 for many reasons including cost optimisation programmes providing lucrative early retirement packages. Sometimes this is a side effect of the phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘corporate amnesia’. It is what occurs when an organisation forgets how to run its business due to layoffs or attrition of highly skilled and experienced people. Failure to standardise and document operating practices and procedures prohibits the organisation from sustaining performance.

Leaders in industry have been dedicating focus and effort to cultivate the incoming generation; however, this new workforce, consisting mostly of millennials and now Generation Z, comes with different strengths than their predecessors. The new majority is driven by digital technology, connected workspaces, remote work teams, entrepreneurial independence, and most of all, a keen interest in the meaning and outcome of their work. This cohort wants to feel like a part of the business and make a difference beyond the finite tasks, roles and responsibilities given in their job description. While there are several advantages to all of these traits, the new generation of workers is already here and on track to be over 80% of the workforce by 2025, based on multiple sources. There is not enough time left for traditional methods of knowledge management and transfer like job shadowing, classroom learning and elaborate succession plans. 

Written by Joy Singh, T. A. Cook Consultants Inc., USA

This article originally featured in the May 2019 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. To read the full article, sign in or register for a free trial subscription.

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