Protecting precious corporate knowledge is becoming a priority issue for companies, as the highly mobile Generation Y grows in influence in today’s workforce, said David Thompson, employment law partner at national law firm Hunt & Hunt.
“Given indications that Generation Y employees frequently stay in jobs for short periods, the challenge for employers should not only be to find ways of supporting staff retention, but rather also to seek strategies for protecting the company’s ‘corporate databank’ of knowledge,” said Thompson. Lawyers can help companies ensure that adequate confidentiality clauses, for instance, become more commonplace in employment contracts.
Generation Y children, having seen their parents suffer the effects of retrenchment in the 80s and 90s, interpret loyalty differently to previous generations, which tended to define loyalty largely in terms of number of years of service. “It is not to say that Gen Ys are disloyal. They do expect to receive and give loyalty in their workplace, but, unlike their parents, their concept is instead based on honesty and respect between management and employees rather than committing to a life-long career with one company,” said Thompson. “At the same time, companies should also be looking at ways in which to implement more sophisticated methods of knowledge management, so that they can capture as much of their employees’ knowledge as possible, in the time that they are with the company.”
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