Retention plan

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A Retention plan is A plan that identifies the critical knowledge and positions in an organization, and methods to be used for addressing potential knowledge loss through attrition, and the process that will ensure that the plan is continually updated to meet changing business needs


Knowledge retention plans should be developed for knowledge and skills identified as most critical. Plans may include methods to retain the critical knowledge and skills and actions necessary to mitigate the negative impact of losing the knowledge and skills.


A variety of alternatives can be used to address impending loss of critical knowledge and skill. These include:

  1. Staffing:
    • New hire or transfer;
    • Current employee to assume responsibilities.
  2. Documentation and codification:
    • New or revised procedures;
    • Checklists, inventories, etc.;
    • Performance support systems;
    • Shared folders, intranet, job aids;
    • Videotaped instructions and demonstrations;
    • Photographic records;
    • Concept maps.
  3. [[Education] and coaching:
  4. Process re-engineering:
    • Process improvement;
    • Update equipment;
    • ‘Smart’ tools and technology;
    • Task, product or service termination.
  5. Alternative or shared resources:
    • Agency/site/department expert;
    • Rotational or ‘visiting’ staff;
    • Multiple skills, cross-training, collateral duties;
    • Contractors, part-timers, retirees.


Some actions included in knowledge retention plans need to be coordinated with other groups in order to be completed. In other instances, a potential knowledge loss issue at one site or within one group may suggest a more widespread threat. To complete the knowledge retention plan or to address broader issues, coordination should occur with such groups as:

  1. Site training;
  2. Other sites;
  3. Key leadership and succession planning;
  4. Peer teams;
  5. Recruitment;
  6. Employee technical training and organizational effectiveness;
  7. Process and methods;
  8. Corporate office.

This coordination should be addressed as part of the development of the knowledge retention plan. As needed, senior management addresses coordination or implementation issues, which cross major sites or divisions.

Fig 1. Retention plan example
Fig 2. Knowledge retention plan

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