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Defusing the demographic time‐bomb

Sue Hewitt (Development Consultant, Milecastle Consultancy, Brampton, UK)

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 17 October 2008




The purpose of the paper is to examine how organizations can retain the business knowledge and skills of older workers as they retire or move on.


Describes the nature of the ‘demographic time‐bomb’, the effects it could have on organizations, and the knowledge‐management and other systems that organizations can use to minimize these effects.


Highlights the need for a knowledge‐retention programme, under which an organization can start to identify knowledge at risk and establish central knowledge repositories. Creative retirement policies, retiree workforce pools and a lessons‐learned capture process from retirees ensures the effective transfer of vital information from these people. Building a database of retirees for temporary, contract employment and special‐project work is useful. An organization should develop a retiree/worker mentoring programme to encourage mentoring and cross training, while instilling in pre‐retirees the commitment to knowledge sharing and collaboration. Creating inducements to learn is also important.

Practical implications

Emphasizes process management in transferring knowledge and skills from older workers to their younger colleagues.


Stresses that, while building the necessary knowledge‐management architecture is the easy bit, managing the people aspects is more challenging. Suggests some ways to overcome these challenges.



Hewitt, S. (2008), "Defusing the demographic time‐bomb", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 16 No. 7, pp. 3-5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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