Utility Succession Planning

planning-1Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. ~John F. Kennedy


In our Thursday post, The Next Big Thing, we highlighted a few of the impending changes in the Water and Wastewater industries. With the increasing demand for clean drinking and irrigation water, combined with the pending retirement of the baby boomer generation, job opportunities are definitely on the rise.


But there is even more to consider than just the growth of the industry and training all new employees. The employees who have worked for a utility for 10, 20 or even 30 years have valuable knowledge and expertise from their years on the job, and when they Retirementretire, that knowledge is leaving with them. At American Water College, we call that “The Brain Drain.” Utilities who have depended on these water treatment, distribution and wastewater treatment professionals to keep things running smoothly will experience a mass exodus of that accumulated utility and industry knowledge.


PanicThis is where planning is essential. A wise man once said that “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Successful succession planning develops a pool of talent within the company so that there are qualified candidates within the organization to fill vacancies. This strategy requires training new employees to perform their jobs competently, creating a talent pool within the organization, and instilling employee loyalty. American Water College has a Workforce Development Program designed to help utilities achieve these goals, which will result in decreased turnover as the company grows and changes, increased employee satisfaction and job performance, and most importantly, this will create a plug in the brain drain. As vacancies are created, whether through retirement or shifting in the organizational structure, a Workforce Development Program will capture current company knowledge and ensure that future employees are adequately prepared to meet the challenges of their job.