General Motor is an automotive company that focuses on designing, manufacturing, and selling cars and automotive parts. The company’s success is highly based on human resources skills, knowledge, creativity, and innovativeness. One of the company’s main competitive advantage is based on having great talents, with a high level of experience in automotive design and production. The company thus values its workforce, especially the old individuals with more years of experience and deep knowledge in automotive manufacturing. This means one of the current trends that are likely to impact the company negatively is the aging workforce. General Motor Company has a huge number of old workers who will need to retire shortly. The company has a huge number of aging workforce from the baby boomers generation across all departments. This means the company is likely to experience a “bow wave” as baby boomers started retiring in huge numbers (Shea, 2015).
This is likely to impact the company operation if the group would leave without ensuring effective knowledge transfer to the younger workforce. The aging workforce is likely to be a serious issue in a situation where the majority of the aging workforce is working in a sensitive department such as product designs, research and development, and product manufacturing. These among other working stations require individual knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience, which play a significant role in determining overall product quality and performance efficiency. The aging workforce in all other departments has also mastered the art of solving problems and working effectively for better results. This means that the company is likely to lose essential talents and knowledge if proper knowledge transfer is not enhanced before their retirement.
HR Strategies to Address Aging Workforce
To address the aging workforce threat, the company needs to create an effective knowledge transfer strategy from the aging workforce to the younger workforce. To make this strategy a reality the HR department will need to carry out the following action plan:
- The company should develop a talent development system that enhances mentoring of the young workers from each department by the older workers
- The company should assess the knowledge and skills levels of the younger generation to determine the knowledge gap between what one possesses and what is needed for effective operation in their area of operation.
- A mentorship program should be developed based on individual protégé/protegee knowledge deficiency
- The company should also develop a succession plan where the younger junior workers are slowly introduced to a higher working position which they will occupy after the older workers retire.
- A rotation program can be established in each department to ensure younger workers acquire all-round knowledge required to ensure effective operations in the department.
- The company should also have online training programs where senior experienced workers can explain essential operation procedures, tips, and knowledge in videos. This can be referred to in the future even in their absence
- The company should also establish a workers retention program to reduce turnover among younger worker force trained on product knowledge and secretes that enhance the company’s competitive advantage.
The above-identified steps will be used to protect the company from suffering from unbearable knowledge and skill loss after all baby boomers retire from the company. The main intention of these steps is to ensure that the company has managed to transfer and retain knowledge from the aged and more experienced workforce to the younger workforce. The younger workforce is anticipated to take care of the company operation fully after the retirement of the baby boomers. It will be necessary to ensure that the remaining workforce can maintain the level of operational efficiency, and accuracy, and continue producing automotive products with the same or even higher quality as the experienced workforce (Ulrich, Younger, Brockbank & Ulrich, 2012). This can only be achieved by ensuring that the younger workforce has all operational knowledge and secrets learned by the aging workforce during their many years of operation in the company. The company should thus take advantage of their remaining time in the company to facilitate knowledge transfer through mentorship. To ensure the sustainability of knowledge transfer in the company, the company should establish a talent development system in the company. This system should ensure a constant preparation of junior workers to take over from their senior workers at all levels of operation. By so doing, the company will never experience operational or leadership shock when any of its employees leave the company abruptly or even after retirement (Kats et al., 2010).
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