I recently heard the term “silver tsunami” at a conference in Florida. It has been around since the 1980s. It refers to the current and pending retirements of Baby Boomers (Gen X is not far behind), and the void it will create in the workplace. Not as much a void of people but a void of experience.
For all crafts and trades (including reliability) it is especially troublesome. Many of those nearing (or in) retirement got their start when many predictive technologies were in their infancy. Even though these technologies have become more user-friendly and automated, the classical maintenance skills needed to maintain critical machinery and infrastructure often require a long learning curve for the next generation.
Bridging Generational Gaps in Maintenance Teams
So, what can YOU do about it?
- Utilize your more experienced staff to mentor those younger. Pair older technicians with their younger counterparts, so they can learn the tips and tricks. And encourage the more seasoned techs to share their know-how.
- Document maintenance techniques and procedures – not just “how”-but “why.”
- Train the younger technicians. There are some organizations that have established training programs to teach classical precision maintenance skills, such as Acoem USA’s Reliable Precision Maintenance course).
- Let the new folks get their hands dirty, not just be helpers!
- Utilize their skill sets. All too often, we “old timers” think things must be done our way, but younger techs can often bring in the latest ideas. Most of them grasp technology better than we do.
What ideas/techniques have you or your company employed to turn the silver tsunami into a golden opportunity?