Our ageing population is the result of two demographic trends: decreasing fertility levels and higher life expectancy. As a corollary to these demographic trends, the working population is ageing and shrinking at the same time. This development will affect the performance of organizations in the next decades. As today’s economy and the performance of organizations are mainly based on knowledge, the ageing workforce will mainly affect the organizations ability to be knowledge productive.
As current knowledge management (KM) and intellectual capital (IC) literature hardly addresses the issue of ageing, the aim of this paper is to explore this topic in order to formulate an agenda for further KM/IC research.
Combining the temporary consequences of ageing (brain drain and talent gap) and the false assumptions about the capabilities of older workers (older workers contribute negatively to a firm’s performance), the current ageing of the working population reveals two main risks for organizations and management: underutilization of older employees, and loss of knowledge.
Based on the exploration of these two risks in this paper, several issues are proposed for further research. These issues focus on the specific competences of the older knowledge worker, the implications for talent development programs, the benefits of inter-generational learning, and effectiveness of knowledge retention strategies.
Today, the main fear is that large scale retirement will lead to a shortage of skills, talents, knowledge. Although acknowledging the risks and threats of this brain drain, the current temporary ageing of our workforce might also contribute to a structural better valuation of the potential of the older knowledge worker and its specific contribution to the process of knowledge creation. In an ageing knowledge economy, increased understanding about the abilities and distinct qualities of older workers will provide opportunities for organizations to enhance knowledge productivity and thus gain competitiveness.
De complete studie en onderzoeksagenda over dit onderwerp leest u hier: Knowledge and the ageing employee: a research agenda