ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Byrne has been a Board Member of the IEHRA since 2010 and involved in independent power with Exelon and PPL Resources over the last 15 years. He has over 25 years human resources experience with an emphasis in compensation & benefits and is a former adjunct faculty member of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
On September 28th 30th, the Independent Energy Human Resources Association (IEHRA) held their 23nd annual conference in Nashville. Over 90 HR practitioners and industry partners enrolled for the three days to hear the latest in issues and trends impacting the energy space.
This was the best attended annual conference for IEHRA to date and serves as a great way for HR professionals to stay current, network with colleagues, and have some fun. Some of the highlights from the conference included:
2011 Energy Industry Compensation Survey
: As a part of a regular pre-conference Compensation Workshop conducted for IEHRA members, a team of senior consultants from Aon Hewitt shared key insights from the 2011 Energy Industry Compensation Survey. The workshop shared how companies had responded to compensation issues when faced with challenging economic situations. This included how organizations in the independent energy sector were approaching three core components of managing compensation: addressing salary increases, managing variable compensation and administering benefits and perquisites.
Findings from the study show that overall, base salary increase trends have halted the decline that began in the latter part of 2008 when economic downturn began and have stabilized. While base salary increases continue to be conservative, Companies continue to increase targets and the weight placed in the variable pay category. This can result in increased total compensation when Companies exceed their goals. The opposite can also occur as the survey showed in the area of Energy Trading where the actual levels of variable pay continue to see reductions in many positions, reflective of low power prices across the country that have lingered beyond the impact of the initial economic downturn.
A new feature to the presentation included a global flavor; AON Hewitt included results of its findings for Canadian positions as well as those of US energy power producers.
Sources: 2011 IEHRA Energy Industry Compensation Survey & AON Hewitt US Salary Increases 2011/2012
Additional conference presentations included the following
Jason Makansi, President of Pearl Street, Inc presented his overview "Illusions vs. Realities in the Energy Industry
" of the economic and technical drivers the energy industry faces from smart grid technology to the potential impacts from Fukushima. He identified mega-trends around shale gas, electric vehicles, economic development and financing challenges and the role HR professionals' play in developing the technical talent to meet the needs of the changing power production workplace.
This challenge of responding to the workplace of the future easily led to the energetic presentation "Succession Planning is Success Planning
" by Teri Fisher, CEO and Managing Partner of Insight Strategies. Ms. Fisher discussed the talent management model where the employee development and performance management both develop future leaders as well as creates a culture in the organization that increases alignment and results. In the system where proper recruiting, promotions, development and performance management exist, the next leader is prepared and the transition and succession planning process and inherent in the talent management cycle.
As a change of pace, a thought-provoking review of "Managing Social Media: From Baby Boomers to Gen-Y
" was led by Jason Boulette, Esq., Partner, Boulette & Golden, LLP. Combining antidotes and statistics Jason discussed the legal and employee relations that are involved with the hardware, software and privacy issues are outpacing our traditional methods of establishing policy and employee expectations of work-related behavior. Where public and private persona, multimedia and social communications and data are all accessible or intermingled there are some issues that are truly new under the sun, that need management attention.
Jason Warner, Principal, Recruiting Toolbox, Inc. took the social media concept and brought it back to emerging issues in "3 Trends Changing the World of Talent
": Democratization of Talent Acquisition; Radical Transparency of Companies and Jobs; and Recruiting on the Real Time Web. Democratization is a concept, Jason explained, that Companies no longer are the sole source of information about their openings and requirements through postings on traditional job sites, other means like blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn all are alternative sources of information. Likewise, radical transparency occurs when employees, customers, candidates and any others post information on GlassDoor or Twitter about our Companies. The real time web is emerging where employees, recruiters and others use twitter, facebook and other media to promote the company and openings outside the traditional job board model.
Concurrent round table sessions were held on the second day of the conference featuring the chance for participants to attend two of three sessions that included:
- Engagement Surveys reflecting the experience Constellation Energy had with its most recent employee survey, facilitated by Janese Murray, Executive Director Talent Management & Inclusion.
- Leadership Development discussing practical experiences in developing talent across the participating attendees and experiences from Teri Fisher's client experiences at Insight Strategies, Inc.
- Recruitment Best Practices session allowed attendees to discuss their efforts to attract talent as well as hear additional strategies at Recruiting Toolbox by the host Jason Werner.
The group heard about the importance of organizational alignment and fits in a presentation entitles "I Hired Employees, and People Showed Up
" by Stephen Picarde, Vice President of PI Midatlantic. To recruit and retain talented employees, PI Midatlantic provides assessment tools for selection, development, team dynamics, and aligning talent with organizational goals.
The conference had focused on getting and developing talent and the final presentation covered retaining your top talent, "The Recession is Over & I Quit"
by Dick Finnegan, President, Finnegan Mackenzie, The Retention Firm. He reminded attendees that as we strive to hire good employees and our competitors are doing the same of our best employees, to get our best employees to stay you have to offer a unique opportunity and that supervisors are the critical relationship that drive retention or turnover. Supervisors need to be accountable for retention and do so through building trust on their teams. Human Resources can support the effort through narrowing the front door, scripting those new employees to engage the candidates and audit policies to ensure they support retention. His firms experience is that retention needs to be a business issue with executives driving the effort.
The conference concluded with Anne Crumlish, Principal & Health Care Actuary of AON Hewitt presenting "Health Care Reform: What HR Practitioners Need to Do and When.
" The health care reform legislation addressed extending coverage to uninsured persons and well as how to pay for the expansion between 2011 and 2014. An area that has received little press coverage is the impact that Medicare expansion has on state deficits and the implications that will create and the role exchanges will have on the funding issue. Employers will have to make several fork-in-the-road decisions in responding to the PPACA.
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