The Utilities sector has remained pretty much unchanged for more than a span of a century. However, there are disruptive changes in the business model particularly in the areas of consumer expectations, regulatory, compliance, smart meters, distributed power resources, renewable energy, and energy storage to name a few.
Fascinatingly, Utilities industry that was monopolized by some conventional businesses is giving away to a newer set of organizations. These technology-enabled sophisticated setups that understand the business equation has shifted substantially in favour of the consumer.
Additionally, add to that mix the retiring workforce, lack of availability of skilled workforce, are interrupting the current business model of most of the utilities companies now.
Human Capital Challenges
As a consequence of all of these disruptive forces, the Workforce demographics in the utilities sector are undergoing a massive transformation. Following are some of the challenges faced by the utility companies:
- Massive retirement across all positions and skill sets. According to several polls, there could be an estimated 30-40 percent of the whole industry’s workforce will be eligible for retirement in a few decades’ time.
- Recruitment challenges from less interest in the energy and utilities industry among new graduates.
- Utilities are also not able to bring in the broader workforce into joining them, and the disruption in the business brings in a more extended training period to make workers ready for productive work.
- The broad division between ages of employees and changing worker expectations.
- Inadequate educational infrastructure to support business demands, and too little narrow focus on workforce planning.
Effective HR Strategies to address the challenges
Traditionally, Utility companies have frequently addressed these challenges through stopgap measures like hiring contractors and outsourcing for critical abilities.
However, to tackle the challenges, they are faced with now will require some concrete measures keeping in mind brief and long-term perspectives.
These new challenges can and must be dealt with by Utilities firms as part of companywide perspective as opposed to the only Talent related difficulties. The goal must be to come out with strategic planning that’s sustainable for the future.
Following are some of the areas which Utilities should concentrate on:
- Utilities firms can redefine their business from traditional hierarchical structure to a more modern flatter structure to accommodate generational differences, such as management and learning styles.
- As getting existing or new talent from the industry is getting difficult, companies should examine their current workforce and should try and re-train them in the more modern technology. A focused and critical investment in training will help bridge some of the skill gaps.
- Utilities precisely like any other industry also need to concentrate on their core competency and try to search for opportunities to outsource tasks that are non-core and may be accomplished by external organizations.
- Utilities that can attract, retain, train and develop their talent with strategic HR practices such as digitization, design thinking, mobile first, Analytics etc.
- In the end, the organizations that can deal with the massive cultural changes with definitive change management applications throughout the organization will survive and thrive.