Preserving knowledge legacies: workforce aging, turnover and human resource issues in the US electric power industry

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Author: Ashworth, Michael J.

Abstract:

The aging of the workforce is believed to be a potential threat to productivity of companies both in the US and worldwide. High levels of turnover that may result from workforce aging could cause short-term as well as permanent loss of knowledge critical to firm operations and customer service. While there is a wealth of research regarding the causes of turnover, there is comparatively little research on the actual effects of turnover, particularly involuntary forms of turnover such as retirement. Focusing on the US electric power industry, whose employees have average ages and company tenures among the highest in the world, this paper explores the aging workforce issue both qualitatively and quantitatively. Results from an executive survey encompassing companies representing over 75 per cent of the industry’s workers affirm that workforce aging is the electricity industry’s dominant human resource (HR) concern but that it is interrelated with many other top HR issues, including skill shortages, leadership, and transition from an ‘entitlement-based’ to a ‘performance-based’ culture. Implications of prior literature on organizational learning, turnover and socio-technical systems theories are discussed, and propositions are offered as a framework for further research on the general effects of potential knowledge loss due to aging-related turnover.

Published abstract reprinted by permission of the copyright owner.

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The aging of the workforce is believed to be a potential threat to productivity of companies both in the US and worldwide. High levels of turnover that may result from workforce aging could cause short-term as well as permanent loss of knowledge critical to firm operations and customer service. While there is a wealth of research regarding the causes of turnover, there is comparatively little research on the actual effects of turnover, particularly involuntary forms of turnover such as retirement. Focusing on the US electric power industry, whose employees have average ages and company ...  [+] Show more

Subjects: Industry; Demographics; Management; Skills and knowledge; Employment

Keywords: Human resources; Ageing population; Knowledge management; Labour turnover

Geographic subjects: North America; United States

Published: Abingdon, England: Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis, 2006

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Journal title: International journal of human resource management

Journal volume : 17

Journal number: 9

Journal date: September 2006

Pages: pp.1659-1688

ISSN: 0958-5192; 1464-4399 (online)

Statement of responsibility: Michael J. Ashworth

Resource type: Article

Peer reviewed: Yes

Call Number:
TD/TNC 87.332



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