Onboarding Options for a New Generation of Utility Employees
by John Ferrare, Enerdynamics CEO
It’s been predicted for years and now it’s finally happening – brain drain. Older employees with decades of knowledge are leaving the utility business and taking their know-how with them. Many companies have prepared for this and arranged for some level of knowledge transfer from veteran employees to their younger, less-experienced colleagues. But a considerable challenge remains: onboarding new employees who often have no prior industry experience.
Let’s explore a few options that utilities can turn to so that the onboarding process is more seamless for the utility and its new employees.
Today’s digital landscape makes on-the-go learning easier than ever with online training programs. Online training is most often available on demand, 24/7, and the best products can be accessed from a desktop, laptop, and even mobile device. Utilities can assign subscriptions to individual employees and often can monitor an employee’s progress through the utility company’s own learning management system (LMS) or that of the training content provider. This flexibility with built-in accountability makes online training a clear winner for companies that have multiple employees working in various locations or have employees who may travel often. It also has a relatively low per-employee cost. The key is to find quality content that covers the right topics for entry-level utility industry employees.
This need in the utility training marketplace led Enerdynamics to bolster its library of courses targeted at newly hired energy industry employees. Last year we released condensed versions of our Electric Industry Overview and Gas Industry Overview online learning paths. Each takes just an hour to complete and gives important insight into the industry’s customers, delivery system, system operations, regulation, markets, and future trends.
Another option is a new course called Introduction to Utilities.
This course was specifically designed for new employees and explains what makes utilities different from other kinds of companies and what to expect when working for one. Lessons include:
- What a utility is
- Why utilities are different from other companies
- How the history of utilities impacts their current business practices
- How actions of policymakers and regulators impact a utility
- How different stakeholders relate to the utility
- The functions of the different utility departments
- The key skills needed to be successful as a utility employee
The course takes 90 minutes to complete and makes a perfect onboarding tool.
While it may seem a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem, energy industry primers are a convenient, portable, affordable onboarding tool that employees can use beginning Day One, and they can refer to them as their careers develop. Books can also be used a supplement to online and/or live training. One of Enerdynamics’ utility clients uses chapters of our book Understanding Today’s Electricity Business and Understanding Today’s Natural Gas Business as prerequisites to attending live sessions with an internal subject matter expert (SME) to discuss what was learned. This provides a foundation of knowledge so that the SME can expand on industry concepts rather than simply teach the basics. Books also are a readily accessible resource for years into an employee’s career.
In many situations live training is simply the most comprehensive and effective tool for teaching basic concepts to a group of new employees. Not only does live training assure everyone is learning the same thing at the same time, but the live group dynamic can help build familiarity and comradery among new employees. One of the greatest advantages for Enerdynamics’ live seminar clients is the level of customization that is incorporated into each session. For example, our popular course How Utilities Make Money is available as an online course and a live seminar. However, in the live seminar format, the content is customized to how a specific utility makes money, the regulatory and market challenges based on its geographic location, and other factors unique to that utility. Such training provides a deeper look into the company while also learning how the industry works.
Energy companies are unique and their training needs are, too. Sometimes one training solution can fulfill all a company’s onboarding needs. But other times a strategic combination of live training, online learning, and good old-fashioned books is the best way to reach and teach an ever-evolving workforce.
Interested in onboarding options for your new employees? Enerdynamics offers a variety of custom and off-the-shelf energy business and utility training options. For more information on any of our products or to discuss what options may work best for your company’s needs, contact me at email@example.com or 866-765-5432 ext. 700.