It’s a paradox of human nature, we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.

Lost knowledge due to boomer retirements can be a costly mistake.

Employers have a bad habit of pushing older and more experienced employees out the door as they near 65 so that they can bring in new, fresh blood that is much cheaper to employ.

What organizations fail to recognize, however, is that it takes new employees TIME to get up to speed and work at the same level of proficiency as their predecessors. And time, as we all know, costs money.

To illustrate, I want you to consider these two stories.

The Picasso Principle

One day in a Paris café a woman approached Pablo Picasso and requested that he sketch her and in turn, she would pay him a reasonable fee.

To the woman’s surprise, Picasso completed the sketch within minutes and in exchange requested 500,000 francs.

“But it only took you a few minutes,” the woman exclaimed, to which Picasso replied,            “No, it took me about forty years” 

The retired engineer

In his book, Lost Knowledge, author David Delong recounts a similar story of a retired engineer who was asked to return to the manufacturing plant where he used to work to help diagnose a problem with some of the plant’s equipment.

After several hours, the former engineer marked a piece of equipment with an X indicating the location of the difficulty.

He then handed the plant manager a bill for $50,000: $1 for the chalk, and $49,999 for determining where to place the X.

These stories signify the extensive knowledge, skills, and experience that mature workers have accumulated over their years of experience on the job.

Likewise, they illustrate the power these workers have, should organizations require their assistance on matters only they have the knowledge to solve.

Lost knowledge can be costly to recover.

Our findings indicate that most workers would willingly gift their knowledge to their successors, as it is an opportunity to leave a professional legacy. It is also an occasion to display one’s achievements, influence those with whom one shares close ties, and leave on a high.

Our research reveals that employees who feel valued and appreciated by their organizations are more willing to be of service should their former employers require their assistance once they have exited the workforce.

While some people will request a fair market wage, others may offer their services for free.

It all comes down to a very simple yet powerful lesson we learned in kindergarten.

Treat others how you want to be treated

With regards to older workers, you may want to think about how you want your mother or your father to be treated and act accordingly.

To your success!

Dr. Gill

Dr. Gill is the founder of rewire to retire. A corporate training company dedicated to helping older employees prepare for life after work,