Building great workplace cultures in energy and utility companies can be challenging, especially with the rapid pace of change in the modern workplace. Here are four of the hottest culture trends that will impact energy and utility organizations in 2021.
Update: The way we work shifted dramatically overnight. In Q1 of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Businesses and their employees are being forced to change how they work in some unprecedented ways. While most employees transitioned to remote work, many are left working on the front lines with new social distancing requirements. Confusion, anxiety, and fear are palpable. How will employees adapt to this change in work environment, process, and roles? How can companies help employees be calm, productive, and healthy?
O.C. Tanner pulse surveys show 40% of employees globally are worried about losing their job, while 60% worry about lost income. 65% of employees report feeling a “tense” work environment, and 46% of employees say they are less productive at work. There’s a 221% increase in fearfulness among employees, and a 135% increase in feeling isolated.
During a time of great uncertainty and change, many companies are struggling with how to take care of their people and keep their businesses operating.
What companies can do: In times of crisis, it is a company’s responsibility to help employees thrive. This includes many things: ensuring employees are safe at work, giving them access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, prioritizing employee wellbeing, and communicating honestly, accurately, and frequently. Organizations are taking the necessary steps: 92% of companies took appropriate actions to make sure their employees were safe at work. Video communication from senior leaders nearly doubled. The number of flexible leave policies increased 95%. Now is the time to make employees your most important asset. Take care of their needs, help them stay connected in a time of physical disconnection, and show appreciation for their work and efforts, especially those on the front line. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.
This means we need to understand how employees are feeling and what they want from work. Here the 4 culture trends for 2021 (as they existed before the pandemic):
41% of employees in the energy and utility industry say they feel burned out. It’s no surprise why: there are important advances in smart grid, microgrids, and energy storage that are revolutionizing the energy business. Work in this industry is changing at a rapid rate and workers who have been in the industry for decades and hold “legacy occupations” must adapt or risk losing their job. The rate of change also creates stress for industry leaders who express concerns about the ability to find qualified talent to meet their needs. There are concerns that the current workforce and recruitment efforts may not suffice.
In addition to stress caused by changes in the industry, many utility and energy workers encounter or handle hazardous materials and contaminants regularly. While they may have deep knowledge of how to do so correctly, that still causes a level of stress. These employees also report experiencing fatigue while on the job. According to the 2020 O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report, 34% say their job has a negative effect on their physical health. In addition to experiencing negative health impacts, 41% of energy and utility workers also say their wellbeing has decreased.
All of these factors add significant stress that contributes to feelings of burnout for utility and energy workers. With concerns about the talent shortage, energy and utility must address these burnout issues before it’s too late.
What energy and utility companies can do: You may not have control over how energy and utility management and use evolves, but you can help your people manage their stress better. Focus on improving employees’ physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Create healthy work environments, so employees feel safe and can connect to their work. Many organizations are using open-floor concepts to make opportunities for employees to gather, connect, and collaborate. Others are prioritizing top-quality safety gear or providing access to online therapists as part of health benefits. Most importantly, find ways to connect each employee’s work to a meaningful purpose that inspires them.
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