Technology’s Important Role in Government Knowledge Transfer During the Great Resignation (and Beyond!)

technology's important role in knowledge transfer

The United States saw a drastic change of personnel throughout the pandemic between the Great Resignation and the realignment of workplace priorities. According to Grant Thornton, over 20% of American workers changed jobs in 2021-2022, and an estimated 40% continue to search for new roles. Additionally, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found that over 75% of federal government employees are 35 and older – with 15% considered “retirement-eligible” – pointing to “brain drain” as these workers retire.

This data is timely as Return to Office picks up in earnest across the federal government. Grant Thornton and OPM’s data suggests that employees whose organizations are enforcing unpopular Return to Office policies, or who are simply burnt out in their current roles, may opt to change employers or capitalize upon retirement eligibility and leave the workforce altogether.

No matter the reason for employee exodus, government employers have cause for concern if they lack the technology to preserve and automate critical processes, documentation requirements, and workflows. American workers have and will continue to take valuable skills and knowledge with them into their new roles or into retirement – unless their employers have strong systems and processes for blunting the learning curve for their backfills.

Besides the loss of critical knowledge, it is expensive when someone leaves your organization.  The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs 6-9 months’ worth of an employee’s salary to replace them, inclusive of recruiting and training.

It may be even more expensive for government when stalwart employees leave who were walking, talking repositories of points of data, policies, and procedure.

Based on 2020 BLS data, government employees stay at their agencies an average of 6.5 years (almost twice the 3.7 years private sector employees stayed at their companies pre-pandemic.) Moreover, government employees ages 55 to 64 have an average tenure of 9.9 years; should these employees retire without proper knowledge transfer, their institutions would lose over a decade of knowledge and know-how in a climate when backfills are hard to come by given financial pressure and slower recruiting processes.

Federal government CIOs and other public sector leaders can hedge against the shifting tides in the labor market, as well as personnel budget cuts, by investing in software built around government-specific processes and workflows, including required reporting and approvals, request routing, collaboration tools for intra-government communication, and document management and storage. Case management tools, built around government use cases, allow for knowledge capture and real-time insight into processes and roadblocks, ensuring institutional information is accessible to the current team and leadership.

AINS considers the government’s technology needs from all angles, including how open government software can both break down information silos and ensure safe and secure capture. AINS customers also benefit from an out-of-the-box software experience, designed for government processes and workflows exclusively. For example, AINS’ eCase Audit is built around U.S. Yellow Book auditing standards to ensure tight alignment with all federal government requirements.  Any federal government software must also meet the US Government’s unique and stringent requirements for data security and integrity (such as FedRAMP), in addition to accessibility for work-from-anywhere employees (such as being cloud-based), ease of use, and investments that advance Congressional goals for modernization.

The loss of institutional knowledge when someone leaves or retires is acutely felt in the federal government space, where higher retirement rates, highly specialized knowledge centers and a slower rate of hiring make for a perfect storm of information loss without the right tools in place. Investment in built-for-government software, such as case management tools and technology, curbs the cost of seasoned employee departures by keeping institutional knowledge within the institution and blunting the learning curve for new employees eager to get up to speed.  In addition, these investments ensure a complete track record of operations and analytics, all while maintaining a consistent user interface that blunts the learning curve for new employees as they take on new day-to-day operations.


This blog represents Part 1 of our research on return-to-work practices and the future of hybrid work. If you would like to learn more, register for our research webinar on August 11, check out our products, schedule a demo today, or register for our user conference here.