The Future of Work
As the energy industry continues to transform, so will the needs, skills and expectations of our workforce. New technologies, digital systems and process automation are changing the way we get work done as well as changing the expectations of our customers and employees. In addition, as we continue to focus on the customer experience – offering new energy solutions while providing an exceptional customer experience – we need the tools and resources to deliver. In response, we are focused on defining what the future of work at AEP looks like and how we prepare for this change through strategic workforce planning.
As a leading energy company, we are committed to continuous improvement and learning while reinventing how people, automation and technology work together. This is important to achieve our mission of redefining the future of energy and developing innovative solutions. This means a paradigm shift in the way we do business.
In 2017, AEP completed a 10-week project within shared services that looked at what the work of the future will be and how works gets done. One aspect was exploring how automation can make work faster, easier and more effective. We looked at several time-consuming, manual tasks that could quickly be designed and built in a test environment. We learned that the process automations would help employees do these processes faster, easier and more effectively, allowing them to focus more time on strategic work activities. For example, one team looked at scrap metal billing and management. They found that process automation freed up employees from coordinating the scrap metal process at their locations and sped up the process, which allows AEP to get paid much faster.
We are looking at how to prepare employees for the future of work. This includes forecasting new roles and skills that will be required as jobs change and looking at different technology solutions that would allow work to be more streamlined and efficient. We are also looking at the needs and expectations of our current and future workforce, such as expanding telecommuting and contingent work arrangements that would allow for more flexibility and a type of crowdsourcing of resources, as we need them.
Although our annual employee turnover rate remains steadily low at approximately 6 percent, we anticipate that a significant portion of our workforce will retire or leave for other opportunities within the next five years. Our focus on the future of work allows us to prepare for this shift. Whether through succession planning, investing in new tools, technologies and process automation, or capacity-building and training for emerging skills critical to our industry, we are developing a long-term plan so that we are prepared.