Vantage Energy Consulting, LLC


Human resources are paramount to any program designed to improve power plant performance. Consciously or not, companies convey their expectations of employees through their staffing levels and configurations, compensation, and reward systems. To achieve the desired performance levels, these employee programs must be part of a cohesive plan that supports the corporate/ plant mission and goals.

Issue Background

Human resource programs should support a structure for achieving today’s competitive performance requirements. Historically viewed as an administrative function, the Human Resources Department has not been generally recognized as a key strategic business participant. Only recently have utility companies begun to elevate Human Resources to an executive level in the organization. In order to unleash the power of employee programs, plant executives must understand how they impact the effectiveness of their employees:

If employees do not believe there is a problem, they will not be part of the solution. Without adequate employee understanding and acceptance of industry transition, results cannot be achieved. Employees who understand the environment in which the plant operates, and the challenges it faces, are much more readily able and willing to adapt to changing internal processes and work styles.

Staffing levels should be pertinent to the power plant needs of today rather than that of yesterday. Technologies and regulatory issues have changed, and have yielded changes in the required skills, staffing levels, and configurations.

Accurate measurement of employee performance is a key element of sustaining and improving plant performance. Criteria sufficient to adequately assess the overall plant performance must be established, and should be tied to the mission of the specific plant and its role in the company.

Labor management is crucial to the effectiveness of power plant performance. Contractual language pertaining to work rules, outsourcing, scheduling, job classifications, and overtime can significantly impact the labor costs, and therefore, the bottom line costs of the organization.

Incentive compensation can help management focus employees — individually or by group — on the specific outcomes required to meet each of its power plant’s goals and objectives. Well-designed compensation programs have tremendous power to retain key employees and to provide direction as to the priorities of the company in any given year.

Employees are more comfortable in identifying opportunities for change in the plants if they are supported by comprehensive training and development programs that reduce individual risk.

Employee involvement is the key to identifying opportunities for change and continuous improvement. In order to establish an effective continuous improvement process, companies must have a solid communication program that has clear channels between all levels in the plant and the organization.

Identifying and eliminating the barriers to effective power plant performance posed inadvertently by human resources programs will have a direct impact on the plant’s bottom line

Vantage Implementation Approach

The Vantage consultants will work directly with the power plant management and the Human Resources professionals in the plant and corporate office to identify the impacts of the various human resources programs on the performance of the plant employees. Among the work products that can be delivered are:

HUMAN RESOURCES DIAGNOSTIC – A diagnostic assessment of all human resources programs in the plant to identify barriers in achieving optimum plant performance.

CULTURE ASSESSMENT – Assessment of the status of power plant culture and the extent to which continuous improvement opportunities will be enhanced or hindered. The effectiveness of the formal and informal communications flow across and between all levels and facilities will be assessed, and its impact on the culture and business will be addressed. The assessment will include, where appropriate, an evaluation of the extent that labor and management are partners in achieving continuous performance improvements. The impact of contractual language on plant performance and the extent to which mutual gains approaches are implemented will be investigated.

STAFFING AND ORGANIZATIONAL ASSESSMENT – A review of the organizational structure in order to identify:

the optimum staffing levels, configuration, and spans of control, for both internal and external resources, required to support the plant’s mission

barriers to developmental opportunities and leadership

COMPENSATION PLAN COMPETENCIES – Determination of the role the compensation program plays in the achievement of plant performance goals, and the extent to which the design of the compensation plan can promote increased performance levels. Evaluate performance motivators utilized (i.e.: incentive pay, individual or team based reward systems, gain sharing, etc.).

Training needs analysis – A training needs assessment to identify the current and optimal scope and delivery of skills and knowledge-based training.