We are empowering employees to be engaged through our Power Up & Lead culture workshop, which helps employees learn about their own behaviors and leadership styles, as well as what it takes to be more effective communicators.
Research shows that companies with a strong culture and a strategic business plan outperform their peers. A strong culture fosters engaged employees and creates the foundation for long-term success. At AEP, we have worked to create a culture that will support the adaptability and focus that our employees will need to succeed in a fast-paced, changing work environment that is vastly different than in the past. AEP conducted a culture survey in 2014 to measure our progress in changing the culture. We focused on leadership, performance recognition and accountability, strategic alignment and employee engagement. We have been working purposefully for the last two years to strengthen these areas of our culture, and our employees have helped us to develop the right tools. The survey showed us that we are improving – our employees tell us that they are seeing positive changes in AEP’s culture.
The survey also identified areas for improvement, such as providing more frequent and timely feedback to employees about their work. Leaders at all levels of the company were provided with tools, training and resources to help them understand and share the survey results with their teams. Each team was then charged with creating culture action plans in accord with a common framework. These plans are tied to performance goals. We plan to conduct another survey in 2015 to keep moving forward.
Engaging our Employees
We are empowering employees to be engaged through our Power Up & Lead culture workshop. The workshop helps employees learn about their own behaviors and leadership styles, as well as what it takes to be more effective communicators. In 2014, more than 1,600 employees took part in this training. Approximately 3,000 more employees are expected to complete the training in 2015. Our plan is for all employees to participate.
Another way we are engaging our employees is by training some of them to be certified facilitators to teach the Power Up & Lead sessions to their fellow co-workers. At the end of 2014, approximately 50 employees were trained as facilitators. In addition, dozens of participants who completed the culture workshop signed up to be culture champions. They serve as champions of our values and culture within their work teams and business units. These roles also offer important development opportunities for our employees.
In 2014, AEP redesigned its performance management and compensation systems. Performance reviews are perhaps the most important interaction that an employee and a leader share throughout the year. Reviews provide an opportunity for leaders and employees to clarify goals, measure progress and explore challenges and are essential to ensure proper employee recognition.
With respect to compensation, we analyzed approximately 3,500 employee roles and benchmarked about 70 percent of AEP jobs against the utility industry and 30 percent of AEP’s jobs against general industry. As a result, the compensation system was updated and implementation began in 2015.
Some of the feedback from our 2012 culture survey and 2013 employee focus groups indicated that many employees did not feel recognized or appreciated for their work. We formed a team of employees from across AEP in 2014 to develop a user-friendly resource for employee recognition. In early 2015, the team launched “The Power of Thank You,” a web-based resource where leaders can learn why employee appreciation and recognition are critical to an engaged work force.
While our employees embody a strong safety culture and have a commitment to our customers and to the success of our company, our culture road map provides a direction for the future. It’s the path we are on to build a strong and healthy culture, to ensure AEP’s success. We have a solid foundation that will help us continue to make progress as we build the utility of the future.