The Business of Operating a Utility: Protect and Incent Employees to Build a Stronger Utility
The following is an excerpt from Ice Miller's Pathways to Success for Utilities Guide which provides insights on a variety of topics potentially impacting utility service providers.
As is the case with any business, operating a utility presents unique challenges. Yet, the core objective remains the same, to operate an effective business. In the utility industry, safety is a crucial component of providing adequate and reliable service. When delivering electricity or natural gas to thousands of homes and businesses, there is little margin for error.
Business organizations that instill a culture of safety throughout all levels of their organization witness improvements in quality, efficiency and productivity. They also experience fewer injuries and illnesses, reduced workers compensation claims and less business interruption. Moreover, employee morale is improved when employees know that their employer prioritizes sending them home injury free. Workplace accidents also can cause regulatory issues for utilities. There are a number of ways management can effectively promote safety among the utility’s labor force.
One method of promoting safety is to provide financial incentives to employees for operating safely. However, promotion of safety is just one appropriate criterion on which to base financial incentives. Financial incentives also can be offered to encourage other employee actions that promote the business interest of the utility.