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HR Roundtable: Bridging the Talent Gap

Recruiters and HR consultants see utilities taking an increasingly comprehensive approach to addressing tomorrow’s personnel challenges.

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2006

shadowing with younger employees can help.

Nissenfeld (The Hay Group): Priming the pipeline at multiple spots is a good idea. We are seeing more forward-thinking utilities being more collaborative with universities to reinforce or grow their power-engineering programs. Additionally, companies are using summer internships more aggressively as a way of renewing the pipeline. That kind of collaboration is encouraging the flow of talent.

Shields (Spencer Stuart): You can’t leave any source of talent untapped or under utilized. Companies really need to consider where they might go to find talent they’ve been underutilizing in the past, probably unintentionally. But it’s a Catch 22. If a certain group isn’t well represented in the industry segment, it might not be seen as attractive to them.

Fust (Korn/Ferry): Companies are looking at non-traditional areas. There are synergies with military training, for example, and those avenues might not have been leveraged as much as they might. It is important for utilities to look at all the areas where they can develop talent, and build programs that reach all the way down to grade school.

Mulvaney (ICF Caliber): That is crucial but I don’t see it happening yet. Sometimes a profession needs to go through a rebranding, and ask, “What is our reputation in the world? How should we change our image to be able to recruit the people we need?”

Mihlmester (ICF Consulting): We need to think about models that get involved earlier in the cycle, to get people interested in electric engines or power generation at an earlier age.

Talkington (Heidrick & Struggles): Not only do you need to attract employees, but you have to retain them. One of the best ways is to have a robust and accelerated career path for your best performers. If they know they are on track and doing well, being advanced and groomed, they will be more reluctant to step out.

But if they are in a stagnant hole and don’t feel they are being helped along and being given opportunities, you will see them leave. A compensation package can be a motivator or not, but in the long term they want a high-quality job or the opportunity to excel. If you don’t give them that, you will be bought out by your competitor.