Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Big business faces knowledge crisis

European companies failing to retain knowledge and skills base

European companies failing to retain knowledge and skills base through lack of policies

European companies are failing to maintain their knowledge base and most lack policies to retain key skills and information, according to the findings of Documents, People and Technology: A European Perspective, the second annual independent survey of the workplace commissioned by Xerox. Indeed, less than half (48%) of the directors interviewed have any clear policy in place to support knowledge retention within their organisation.

The survey was conducted by the international research organisation, MORI Telephone Surveys and involved 1,004 company directors from six European countries. It finds that 80 per cent of directors agree that building and sharing knowledge is important for their company and 64 per cent agree that retaining knowledgeable people is more important than cutting costs. However, more than one in four (27%) admits to losing significant knowledge or skills from their workforce within the last two years.

Despite a lack of understanding of precisely what knowledge strategy entails, there is a growing awareness amongst businesses of the need to find more effective ways of managing and retaining knowledge. More than four out of five (87%) directors believe that they could improve their company''s competitiveness if they improved the way they managed ''knowledge'' inside their organisation.

Businesses can no longer afford to remain ignorant about effective knowledge management and retention. In the current economic climate this could have a significant impact on their competitiveness, said Andy Jones, Director of Xerox Global Services, Europe. Industry will continue to waste millions of Euros until clear policies and therefore defined processes are in place to manage and grow company ''knowledge banks''. This can help preserve the necessary expertise when key staff depart and indeed can raise the knowledge level and the efficiency of the company as a whole.

About the survey
The survey was conducted on behalf of Xerox by MORI Telephone Surveys between 22 August 2002 and 7 October 2002. MORI interviewed 1,004 directors or their deputy in European based companies.