- Sep 16, 2022 5:50 pm GMT
The labor market is rapidly shifting. The expectations and challenges power companies were dealing with have been upended by the pandemic and the “Great Resignation.” Organizations are accelerating investment in automation while searching for workers to fill more skilled positions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 10 million private sector jobs remained unfilled in the U.S. at the end of June. Nearly 500,000 of those unfilled positions come from transportation, warehousing, and utilities, as workers face burnout in their current positions and see other opportunities elsewhere. As baby boomers retire, the labor market will tighten even further. The skills gap is getting wider and deeper.
Power companies must find a way to meet these challenges. Implementing an effective training program results in a highly skilled workforce that provides an advantage over the competition.
While a strong training program can impact many areas, this article focuses on two:
- Recruiting and onboarding qualified talent
- Retaining that qualified talent for the long term
Recruiting and Onboarding
As power companies focus efforts on finding talent, they aren’t just competing within their industry. Investment in technology and automation means competing for workers with health care, IT, and other industries.
To identify and attract qualified talent, power companies must broaden their search for talent. In addition to focusing on specific job skills, they should identify qualities that could make candidates a good hire. These qualities include an aptitude for learning the required skills and characteristics such as attitude and ability to work with others.
By focusing on broader attributes instead of specific skills, power companies can identify potential candidates who may not have otherwise made it through the initial review process. Once hired, these candidates can start acquiring the necessary skills through a structured training program.
A strong training program will help power companies stand out in the competitive job market. When candidates see a company with a structured program that outlines the skills they’ll acquire and their path for success, they are more likely to choose that organization over others.
Every training program starts with onboarding. A strong onboarding program can improve retention in the early stages of a new hire, when employees are more likely to still have other job prospects. Workers who have a clear idea of the job they’ll perform, the training they’ll receive, and the potential for advancement are more likely to stay. A strong onboarding program focuses on:
- What workers will be doing from Day 1
- Giving them a “feel for the place”
- How things are done, specific to their role
Good onboarding helps retain workers by encouraging them to own their careers. In a presentation to the Society for Human Resource Management, The Wynurst Group reported that employees who experienced a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to remain with the organization after three years.
Long Term Retention
The Bureau of Labor reports a 49.0% turnover rate for transportation, warehousing, and utilities. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, most organizations have a turnover rate closer to 20%. Training can help lower those numbers.
According to the Bloomberg article, America is Facing a Great Talent Recession, current workers have less chance for advancement from entry-level positions than ever. Instead of investing in employee development, many organizations hire experienced workers from other industries, sometimes bypassing frontline workers. More than 50 million Americans are stuck in low-wage jobs without a chance to acquire skills to move ahead. And yet, 75% of employers say they can’t hire workers with the required skills.
Training develops future workers. Not only do they tend to stay, but they also create a pipeline of skilled workers who can fill open positions created by retirements and other turnover.
An ongoing training program increases worker expertise and contributes to job satisfaction, especially when combined with a clear path showing workers how they can advance in their careers. To ensure your training program retains workers, given experienced workers the opportunity to provide input on:
- Job position competencies
- Career path options and strategies
- Training goals and objectives
Managers training is also an important part of an overall training strategy. When workers choose to leave, they are choosing to leave a manager, not the organization. Key retention practices include equipping managers to support workers and ensure the managers clearly communicate career progression. Training and mentoring leverage current talent to help high potential employees understand leadership roles while developing young talent.
For utilities to ensure their training programs are helping recruit and retain key workers, they should focus on three key steps:
- Work to provide opportunities and foster a positive learning culture
- Identify competencies and provide opportunities to high potential workers
- Explore training solutions to deliver the competencies you’ve identified
These steps will start organizations on a path toward using training to address worker recruitment and retention challenges.
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