Powering Strong Communities

Quiz: How attractive is your utility?

Utilities might not be thought of as employers of choice at first, but they certainly have many of the common factors that employees value. Here are a few questions to get you thinking about how you present yourself to prospective (and current) employees and where you might have areas to improve your odds of landing — and keeping — a pool of employees with the right fit for you. Choose the response that sounds the closest to your utility.

  1. How does your compensation compare to similar employers in your area?
    1. People could probably make more elsewhere, but a job is more than salary.
    2. We’re on par with utilities in our region, I think.
    3. We have competitive salaries, and we have a process to regularly benchmark them against utilities and other area employers.
  2. How do prospective employees know about you?
    1. Everyone in the area knows us because they get their monthly electric bill from us.
    2. We usually have a booth at job fairs and maintain contact with local recruiters and school counselors.
    3. We have an active role in a variety of community activities and have relationships with local schools and businesses to support a robust talent pipeline, plus we allow shadowing and have interns.
  3. How does your utility share news about staff or recognize employee achievements?
    1. We send emails and have a bulletin board.
    2. We acknowledge major milestones and changes in all staff meetings and events.
    3. All of the above, and we give employees a gift or bonus appropriate for the occasion.
  4. How is diversity recognized within your utility?
    1. Our town isn’t very diverse, so neither is our staff.
    2. We are working to make our employees more reflective of the communities we serve.
    3. We recognize and celebrate a variety of occasions that promote different cultures, our employees have formed affinity groups, and we invite training and other opportunities for all staff to learn diverse perspectives.
  5. What kind of flexibility do employees have in setting their schedules or where they can work?
    1. Everyone reports to the office or field site during regular business hours or is on call for emergencies.
    2. Some employees can telework or set an alternative schedule depending on their role; individuals usually work it out with their supervisor, and use is limited.
    3. Employees take advantage of a defined telework policy and process for requesting alternate schedules; employees don’t feel penalized for using these opportunities.
  6. How open to change is your utility? Do you try out new technologies and ideas?
    1. We update processes and procedures to stay in compliance.
    2. We follow industry trends with interest and have tried out some new programs when it seems like there is customer interest or the opportunity arises.
    3. We regularly look at customer and employee feedback and discuss ideas for improvement; we have piloted or deployed technologies such as predictive analytics and drones.
  7. How do employees know about your commitment to safety?
    1. We share our annual statistics and have posters up about safety.
    2. We share a safety tip in daily stand-up meetings and in emails.
    3. We encourage employees to raise potential concerns or minor issues as a way to discuss and prevent incidents.
  8. What community partners do employees work with as part of their jobs?
    1. Only senior management interacts with other municipal departments and some other organizations.
    2. In addition to building relationships with key accounts, some employees work a booth at community fairs or provide demonstrations to schools.
    3. Employees participate in relevant cross-industry projects and research with other city departments, local colleges or economic development teams.
  9. How does your utility give back to its community, and how are employees involved in these activities?
    1. We provide payments to the city and provide free or reduced-cost services.
    2. We have an annual day of service, and employees participate in a holiday parade.
    3. Employees are involved in selecting which community organizations to support, we regularly volunteer as a group, and we host events or activities for customers.



Give yourself one point for each a; two points for each b; and three for each c.


Score 9–13: You’ve got some work to do

You might be content with the employees you have, but they likely don’t know it and your utility doesn’t show it. While some things, such as raising compensation or giving bonuses, might be out of your direct control, you might consider implementing some low-cost practices to show your appreciation and share what your utility cares about most.

Score 14–21: You’ve got a light hold on employees

You are likely putting in some effort to make your utility a good place to work — bravo! You know that having a good employee isn’t just about recruiting well, but also putting in the effort to make sure your workplace stays positive. Even if your employees know your utility is a good place to work, do others know it? Look at how you talk about working at the utility and share your strengths, whether they are how you care for staff or the array of cool projects you do.

Score 22–27: Have any openings?

You put active effort into making your employees feel valued and showcasing your company values. Your employees are community ambassadors for your utility, and their passion shines. But don’t just let them speak for you — make sure you tout all the ways your utility is a great place to work, even when you aren’t hiring.