The utility talent gap is widening. New technologies and evolving markets call for a more proactive approach to building the future workforce.
Where Did My People Go?
Today’s talent deficiency is tomorrow’s imperative.
complete in-house talent and where to include the new extended workforce: a network of outside contractors, outsourcing partners, vendors, strategic partners, customers, regulators, and other nontraditional contributors to fulfill demand.
Next, evaluate the operating model and governance to position a tighter coalition between core operations, IT, procurement, and human resources on forecasting, sourcing, and deployment and development of both internal and external talent. This evaluation then needs to go a step further and consider defining how talent needs will be determined; how talent will be sourced, developed, and deployed; and at what pace and flex. Everyone has a role to play. The responsibilities can be aligned in different ways, but all of the responsibilities must be understood and owned by some part of the organization so that accountability can be assigned accordingly.
Finally, prepare leaders and hold them accountable to understand and lead these shifting dynamics. Assess and develop the appropriate leadership principles for your business direction to be successful. Just as with the ranks of the workforce, define a leadership strategy for developing, recruiting, and retaining the leadership talent that mirrors your company’s ambitions or critical imperatives. Once it’s clearly defined, drive it out in every communication and performance management opportunity available to build the culture your company wishes to possess. The success of the workforce overall is in the strength and consistency of the leadership team’s guidance. For example, if retention of engineers is a persistent issue, tie accountability for resolution to the vice president and director levels.
Delivering on Expectations
The stakes are rising. Utilities must decisively take steps today with insight and focus on the future of the corporate vision. Ultimately, defining a workforce strategy and plan is more than about improving; it could become the defining element that differentiates those who survive. By being proactive in workforce strategy, a utility can optimize its labor spend today (sourcing spend, talent acquisition costs, development costs, and the like) and be in a better position to deliver on the expectations of tomorrow.
1. “ Profit and the New Normal: Delivering value in a zero-growth market ,” Public Utilities Fortnightly , June 2013.
3. Merriam-Webster defines “crowdsourcing” as the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from the online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
6. Fortune “ 100 Best Companies to Work For ,” 2013.