May 23, 2023 | Alex Paradies

The Effect of the Great Resignation / Retirement on Institutional Memory Loss

great resignation/retirement

How to Prevent Your Company From Forgetting the Hard-Learned Lessons of the Past

Preserving institutional memory will be one of the most important challenges companies face. According to the US Census Bureau, by 2030, all baby boomers will be age 65 or older. The retirement rates and people just quitting have seen accelerated since covid. The media is calling this the Great Resignation.

Companies are losing their most experienced employees (and the decades of knowledge they possess). This loss of institutional memory leads to repeating the mistakes of the past.

In the past, I worked in a plant that was over 50 years old with around 250 employees. We had more than 30 employees with more than 40 years of experience. One was our Engineering Manager. How does a company even begin to approach the idea of replacing an engineering manager with more than 42 years of experience? There are three concepts that companies need to be employing now in order to prepare for the coming retirements.

  1. Record what they know
  2. Mentor the next generation
  3. Standardize your onboarding process

Read on for more ideas…

Record What They Know

Companies rarely have a formal process for collecting and maintaining lessons learned. It is important to take time to collect what your experts know and how they learned those lessons. Most processes have evolved over time for good reasons. Without understanding the reasons, newer managers, engineers, and workers may change things that will result in accidents, injuries, quality issues, or production problems.

For specific ideas about recording equipment troubleshooting and root cause analysis knowledge, see the section about Equifactor® Troubleshooting and TapRooT® RCA below.

Mentor the Next Generation


How do you mentor employees to make them effective leaders and learn the knowledge of experienced employees? I was in a corporate mentoring program in my past job, but I can’t claim to be an expert on the processes used. However, there is a lot of good reading to give you some great ideas. Try these articles and books:

Those are a good sample of articles and books to choose from.

Standardize Your Onboarding Process

Give new members time with the experienced generation to indoctrinate them into your company’s culture.

Again, here are some books and articles to get you started developing an effective onboarding process:

If you read a sample of the books and articles above, you should have some great ideas to implement. But there’s one more topic to consider…

Use TapRooT® RCA and Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting

One more idea for passing on knowledge to newer employees. Use technology that includes expert knowledge. An example of the technology is the Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Guide and the TapRooT® RCA Root Cause Tree® Diagram. Let’s look at how each of these techniques passes knowledge to the next generation.

Equifactor® Process

The Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Guide passes the knowledge of Heinz Bloch (equipment reliability expert) on to the next generation of people troubleshooting equipment issues. In addition, you can have your equipment experts develop custom equipment troubleshooting tables for your specific equipment to pass their knowledge on to the next generation. To find out more about how Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting works, CLICK HERE.

Simple TapRooT® 5-Step Process

How can you build an expert’s process for root cause analysis and the knowledge of how to find the root causes of human errors into a system that can be used by both new and experienced employees? Easy! Adopt the TapRooT® System for root cause analysis as your standard root cause analysis process.

TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® Diagram

To find out more about the TapRooT® Process and the Root Cause Tree® Diagram, CLICK HERE.

TapRooT®/Equifactor® Training

To see the dates and locations of our upcoming TapRooT® and Equifactor Training, CLICK HERE.

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Alex Paradies teaching a TapRooT® Class
Current Events, Human Performance
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