Recruiting in the Transforming Utilities Landscape 

by Mike Whillock on in Leadership

Anyone who has been in the utilities industry over the past couple of years has heard that there is an ongoing, monumental shift in the way utilities do business. For the past century, utilities have had a relatively stable and unchanging business model. With the industry in the crosshairs of massive transformations, terms like “The Grid of Things,” DER, “Behind the Meter” and “Personalization” are fast replacing terms like “regulated monopoly,” “centralized commodity provider” and “economies of scale” when it comes to describing energy providers.

With all of the changes in the industry, it’s up to HR and Recruiting to attract the talent that will get the organization where it needs to go.  And these profiles may be very different, non-traditional utility leaders that have the skills and tools to navigate and lead the coming changes in the industry.  Here are a few tips that will help lay the ground work in propelling your company forward.

Get Up to Speed on Where the Industry is Headed

All good recruiters should know their industry and the newest trends.   As the transformation in the utilities industry takes shape, the focus will shift toward balancing reliability, renewables, and individualized customer service. It’s important to understand the trends arising out of these developments, especially if you want to see beyond the curve.

For instance, according to this report by The Edison Foundation, utility companies will need to rethink their entire customer relationship strategy as technology continues to advance, renewable sources evolve, and consumers begin to expect more options and control from their utility provider. How does this impact your recruitment strategies in the long run? With shifting demands from your customers and the sharply escalating needs to meet them, you’ll need to have different skillsets to focus on the customer service side of business.

Understand Your Company’s Current Workforce

It is estimated that the utilities industry will lose about 60% of its workforce due to retirement or attrition within the next decade. Think about the massive amount of knowledge and experience that will be lost but, at the same time, consider the great opportunity this will open up to bring in new leaders with new ideas. In other words, you need to have strategies in place to rope in a different type of talent.

A great place to start to get ahead of this trend is by looking at your own internal workforce data. For instance, do you know how many people are eligible for retiring? Do you have the leaders on staff to backfill and take on these roles?

These questions will reveal great information to get conversations started with your hiring managers and other operational leaders within your organization. This won’t offer only a better understanding of the existing employee base, but will also help you gain understanding of what the organization will need to look like in the future. Think about the skills and competencies required and the gaps you’ll need to address to help your company evolve.

Take a Look at Your Employment Brand

Is your brand messaging—the message you are using to sell candidates on your company—addressing the exciting and innovative changes that are taking place in the utility industry? According to Thomas Siebel: “By 2020, 25 billion connected things will be in use, and utilities will be the top industry using the ‘Internet of Things’.”  Do you talk about how your company is moving toward ideas and initiatives like this? Or, are you still talking about stability and longevity?

If your answer to these questions is “no,” then it may be worthwhile to champion an initiative to upgrade your organization’s brand messaging.

As the traditional business model of the utility industry gets disrupted, having new recruiting and talent strategies is going to be one of the key ways for companies to survive the current climate and sustain for the future. If you haven’t been re-thinking the way you recruit and retain employees, it’s time that you do so.


Comments are closed.