Utilities are becoming increasingly digital entities—leveraging data and analytics to make operational decisions. As they learn how to leverage data and analytics throughout the entire organization, they need personnel with the expertise and skillsets to unlock the value and meaning of data. New roles such as data scientists, data and analytics architects, and data and analytics analysts are becoming more important to the success of utility operations. These roles, however, are relatively new to the utility industry and require either new hires or training of existing employees to grow their skillsets. Training is the best way for utilities to leverage the personnel they already have and meet the demands of a changing market.
Training and development has many benefits. According to Management.org, there are eight recognizable benefits of employee training and development:
- Increased job satisfaction and improved morale among employees
- Increased employee motivation
- Increased efficiencies in process, resulting in financial gain
- Increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods
- Increased innovation in strategies and products
- Reduced employee turnover
- Enhanced company image
- Risk management
Employee Satisfaction and Retention
The first two of these benefits relate specifically to the individual employee: increased job satisfaction and improved morale, and increased employee motivation. Given the competitive nature of the digital economy, utilities need to focus on how to keep the talent they already have. Increased job satisfaction and improved morale are directly linked to decreased turnover. According to the European Journal of Business Management, “Companies that are providing the training and development programs for their employees are achieving a high level of employee satisfaction and low employee turnover.” LinkedIn’s 2021 Workforce Learning Report says, “94% of employees globally say that they would stay at a company longer if that company simply invested in helping them learn.” Training is an investment in any company’s most valuable asset: its employees. Poor training can even lead to losing employees, according the HR Exchange network: “40% of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year.”
Training and development can have widespread impacts beyond employee satisfaction and retention. It can help create a competitive advantage in numerous ways: increased efficiencies in process, increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods, increased innovation in strategies and products, enhanced company image, and risk management. The HR Exchange Network states, “24% higher profit margins can be the result of companies who invest in training.” Adopting innovation strategies, and new technologies and methods, requires employees to be adaptable and accept change. Training actually makes employees more adaptable. The European Journal of Business Management says, “Employee development programs help employees to survive in the future and develop their abilities to cope with new technologies.”
Focus on Digital Fluency
Data and analytics is the fastest growing area within utilities because it supports the entire business, but the industry is lacking in expertise. Most utilities have data and analytics experts but not enough of them. Without a budget to hire more experts, the best option is to focus on training existing employees. Technology skills and digital fluency will become even more important as utilities continue to digitalize. By offering training and development in these areas, utilities will make employees more adaptable and resilient during business transformations. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Reports defines digital fluency as “having the technology skills to effectively operate in an increasingly digital environment.” It is clear that utilities are becoming an increasingly digital environment; providing training and development in data and analytics will increase digital fluency and create more adaptable and resilient employees within this environment.
Given the way training and development improve digital fluency, it should be a top priority for utilities. From employee retention to competitive advantages, training and development is necessary for a successful business transformation. The Utility Analytics Institute (UAI) is focused on advancing utility analytics and has identified training as a primary component of that mission. UAI has launched data and analytics training courses for utility analytics professionals. The first course, Utility Analytics 101, is launched in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Data Science and Analytics Institute. To find information about Utility Analytics 101 or register for a virtual classroom, public classroom, or private group training go to http://training.utilityanalytics.com/ or reach out to Leslie Cook at [email protected].