Can KM Practices Reduce Employee Attrition?

This question was posted recently on the Knowledge Management LinkedIn group by Avinish Mishra ( Most responders thought that KM did not have an effect outside of creating a sense of belonging or job satisfaction.

My experience is different. I believe there is an indirect but strong relationship between KM and attrition.  About 10 years ago, Chevron introduced an early career program called Horizons with goals of accelerating competency and getting new employees quickly integrated into our business. The program combined formal on-boarding, technical training on Chevron’s processes, 2-3 rotational assignments during the first 5 years, an assigned mentor and encouragement to join a discipline-related Community of Practice. Many of the program’s elements (mentoring, guided job assignments and CoPs) are familiar knowledge transfer techniques.

What is the value? Schlumberger has demonstrated that this sort of innovative approach can significantly reduce a new hire’s time to competency (autonomy). Their study (slide 9) showed an incredible 6 year reduction compared to companies using a more traditional training approach.

We also saw a significant drop in attrition. During the early 2000’s, some of our disciplines were losing new hires at a double digit rate during their first 3-5 years. Today, Chevron’s retention is over 98%.

There are two things today’s new hires (really all employees) are looking for: meaningful, challenging work and investments in career development. A program like Horizons gives new hires a solid technical background and connections to peers and experts that enable them to handle challenging assignments while minimizing the risks normally anticipated from a new hire’s lack of experience. If you provide opportunities like these you’ll find that your employees are engaged and will stick around a lot longer.

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