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Utilities face immediate and unprecedented operational challenges – from asset failures to regulatory pressures – and they are all exacerbated by a growing dearth of critical skills needed to effectively run today’s and tomorrow’s utility. Utility companies typically have been more reactive than proactive in the area of talent development and retention and the result is an effect on their bottom line as well as their ability to meet operational, safety and customer expectations.
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This article was published in Public Utilities Fortnightly in September 2013. Copyright PUR Inc. (www.fortnightly.com). Used by permission of the publisher.
As Accenture pointed out in a recent Public Utilities Fortnightly article, the future is shifting. The utility’s role and its growth potential are becoming less clear. This demanding landscape is requiring companies to identify and find new resource types, and develop new relationships in order to obtain the critical skills sets necessary to meeting the shifting environment.
Failure to prioritize workforce strategies brings consequences – namely increased costs, increased risk and decreased customer satisfaction.
Understanding the capability of a utility’s workforce and how to raise it to meet current and future needs is now, more than ever, a CEO-level concern. Utilities must become good and planning for and managing talent, inside and out, at an unprecedented pace.
The solution is a robust workforce plan that strategically addresses the old paradigms and shifts an organization to the new way of thinking around human resources as a critical capability. This thinking includes a very prescriptive view of the extended workforce - the global network of outside contracts, outsourcing partners, vendors, strategic partners, customers and other non-traditional workers at an organization’s disposal. By maximizing the potential of both an extended workforce and permanent employees, companies would gain critical advantage and minimize the risk of inability to serve.
Susan W. Christensen is a managing director in the talent and organization group in Accenture’s North America Resources operating group.
Sandra L. Jones is a managing director in Accenture’s Utilities industry group.
Brian Payne is a managing director within Accenture’s Talent and Organization group.
September 23, 2013
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