From existing staffing challenges to unpaid customer bills and disconnection moratoriums, utility companies have struggled to grapple with the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Why? Compared to their peers, utility companies have lagged in terms of adopting digital technologies. This made it difficult for many of their employees to make the work-from-home switch back in March.
Harder still, the work of field technicians — a hands-on, close-quarters role — doesn’t lend itself especially well to social distancing. Utilities have certainly made a valiant effort to adapt, but the opportunity to improve operations remains significant.
One of the most impactful areas for operational improvement is the way utility companies communicate with workers. In times of deep uncertainty such as these, employees want to feel comfortable with the flow of information and want to be more connected to their employer. Yet a recent survey from Edelman shows that employees have little trust in CEOs and senior managers: In fact, only 14% of workers genuinely trust these leaders — the lowest number found by the organization’s study.
When employees feel disconnected from leadership — as is often the case at utility companies as well as many others — it only makes employees feel less confident and engaged. This is critical for utilities that are aiming to better engage with rapidly changing workforce dynamics.