Field Operations Training Best Practices

July 2, 2019
Mosaic surveyed energy companies to discover what works and what doesn't work as far as field training.

The energy and utility industries currently face an unprecedented level of change, requiring a shift in the way organizations approach field operations training. Developing a safe, skilled, and high-performing workforce is essential to maintaining and improving workplace safety, optimizing business performance, and maximizing stakeholder value.

How do companies achieve this goal? A recent benchmark study conducted by Mosaic with 36 North American utility and midstream pipeline companies offers some insight.

“Participating companies face a myriad of challenges in training a new generation of field employees as their experienced workers retire, and a younger workforce brings new expectations to the table. There is a critical need to improve the depth and quality of training in response to increasing complexity in the energy business due to new technologies, shifting business models, and expanding regulatory requirements,” says Clint Morse, Mosaic’s founder and chairman of the board.

The findings from Mosaic’s Energy & Utility Training Benchmark Study highlighted three enduring concepts that leading companies are taking to increase their organizational effectiveness in building and maintaining a competent workforce.

  1. Align training strategy with business priorities. Most utility operations view their internal training organizations as a support or service to their company’s primary business. Such a view results in training departments receiving varying levels of support from the lines of business served. To receive the support and investment needed to make a significant business impact, training must align their actions and desired outcomes with the strategic priorities of the business.
  • Business strategies and concerns must drive training decisions and priorities.
  • Training must enable business strategies and deliver business results.

Measuring training effectiveness through business outcomes helps shift organizations from viewing training as an expense to valuing training as a strategic investment.

  1. Build training programs around competence.

Companies that focus training efforts on developing and sustaining employee competence versus merely teaching technical skills consistently reported:

  • Improvements in safety
  • Increased operational efficiencies
  • Faster times to job readiness
  • Elevated abilities of field employees to contribute toward meeting organizational goals and improving business value

Competence reduces organizational risk, speeds the workforce’s time to proficiency, increases productivity, and creates better alignment in the field. Such improvements elevate training’s value to the business, especially as grid modernization continues to change the jobs and work processes completed by field employees.

  1. Utilize micro-learning to build and sustain competence today and into the future. Most utilities employ successful macro-learning initiatives—training programs that build a strong foundation for new employees. In the past, such programs met the organizational and regulatory needs. Apprenticeships and boot camps worked well during the times when hiring was consistent and steady, turnover was low, and the industry was not as dynamic. In today’s environment, companies need training programs that help employees retrieve and reinforce the specific information they need when they need it.

Effective micro-learning solutions are different for each company. The key for success in such programs is to address actual business needs when determining which technologies to invest in, rather than chasing the latest trends. Specific examples that rose to the surface during the benchmark study are structured on-the-job training, micro videos, simple web-based training, and 360 video tours.

The full study highlights ten clear best practices leading energy and utility companies are adopting to build effective field operations training programs. For more information, contact Rachel Collier at [email protected]

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