While many may think the utility industry is protected from economic turbulence, it, too, is affected by issues surrounding the economy. Customers' ability to pay their utility bills and fluctuating gas prices are among the factors that affect a utility's financial standing.
From a training and development perspective, PECO Energy - the electric and natural gas utility serving southeastern Pennsylvania - has taken a proactive approach to dealing with economic challenges and continues to develop a workforce that can manage current and future business challenges.
PECO executives demonstrate their commitment to employee development by continuing to sponsor internship programs, technical training, and leadership development programs, in addition to external hiring for specialized frontline talent when needed.
"Although we continue to hire externally when it makes sense, we recognize that our main focus must be on developing our internal talent to meet current and future business challenges," says Ron Bradley, vice president of support services.
PECO Energy has learned from past initiatives that development needs to be part of the long-term strategy. It takes five years for a new line mechanic to become fully trained, and PECO remains committed to its new line mechanic training that was reinstated in 2005.
PECO realizes that to maximize efficiencies, the company needs satisfied and engaged employees. This past year, executives sponsored a major cultural and leadership development initiative, Managing Your Culture. PECO also holds leaders accountable to three goals tied to employee engagement and satisfaction each year, sponsors an annual employee survey, and leads business literacy discussions with small groups of employees throughout the year.
In these economic times, the company conducts more assessments - such as cost-benefit analyses - and seeks to maximize training efficiencies by
- moving training courses online whenever feasible
- reducing the number of training vendors and working efficiently with those that remain
- aligning training with business strategies.
Other development opportunities that have increased in popularity include job shadowing, rotation programs, and informal mentoring. "There's plenty of energy supporting an engaged and trained workforce at PECO," says Mike Innocenzo, vice president of distribution systems operations and sponsor of the employee engagement team. "With everyone working together more effectively, the company expects to maximize its efficiencies and reach higher levels of customer satisfaction."