Coworkers collaborating in front of computer screen

How employee experience insights can help utilities serve customers

Placing your employees and their experiences at the center of your transformation can improve the customer experience, too.

In brief
  • Utilities have focused on transformations aligning to market and customer expectations, but a key success factor often missed is the employee experience (EX).
  • EX is a full-picture measure of workers’ views about their job – which correlate with the level of customer service provided. But EX can be hard to gauge.
  • Ernst & Young LLP works with top utilities to develop tools that empower leaders to better understand employee experience during customer transformations.

Authors: Joanne Campbell, Colin Skowronski, Matthew Nitkoski, Anna Worrell, Cyrus Seyedan, Amir Badawi, Emily Edwards and Yash Vanjani.

The modern utility company is in a state of constant change as it maintains and transforms its people, infrastructure and technology to advance energy transition strategies, address energy equity needs, mitigate outages, comply with shifting regulatory requirements and, above all, improve the customer experience.

While utilities have focused on infrastructure investments, innovation and new technologies, one critical enabler of the utility customer experience is often overlooked: the employee experience (EX). The COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, economic uncertainty and shifting job roles have reshaped the landscape for employees and now is the time for utilities to reinvent.

EX is a qualitative and quantitative snapshot of a team’s overall capability and feelings about their work – it is the foundation of an organization’s success and is directly correlated with delivering a great customer experience. As utilities grapple with changing external environments and launch long-term digital transformation projects, monitoring EX is critical to manage workforce expectations and helping to ensure teams are equipped with the right resources, tools and training. Research shows that failure to adequately manage employee needs and expectations during transformations can lead to a poor EX, with 67% of workers reporting negative feelings, such as stress, following a difficult or underperforming transformation. 

To help ensure employees remain positive during stressful, lengthy transformations, utilities are working to keep their people at the center of their transformative efforts. When leaders are accountable, caring, collaborative and inspiring during times of change, the probability of transformation success rises by more than 70%.


A utility company’s employees play a crucial role in its success, whether they are in the field, part of the back office or on the customer support team. Maintaining, and ideally improving, employee satisfaction during business transformations is critical for the project’s success and has a strong correlation with improved customer experiences and satisfaction.


EX can be challenging to measure. Internal engagement, satisfaction surveys and performance metrics offer some views, but there is a wealth of other data that can be leveraged to draw insights, identify root causes and personalize a transformation to improve the employee experience. To better manage EX and support overall transformations, we have worked with leading utilities to develop platforms that empower their leaders to better view, manage and support their workforce during transformations. These platforms are designed to give leaders insight into tangible progress being made through the transition, tapping into the feelings of their workforce, and enabling better management of expectations and morale throughout the transformation underway.

Data-driven employee experience insights will guide change


In large-scale business and technological transformations, meaningful data flows from a variety of sources including internal communications, training sessions, progress reports and change impact assessments. With proper mechanisms in place to capture and coordinate this information, these valuable data sources can serve as the foundation for human-centered change management plans.


Take, for example, a large western US utility that was struggling to leverage outdated software to manage multiple ongoing technology transformation projects. The utility was relying on a customer information system (CIS) and workforce management system (WMS) that had been implemented several decades prior. As leadership searched for innovative ways to deliver value and better serve their customers, they realized that reliance on antiquated technologies was making it difficult to gauge if employees were properly prepared and engaged for organizational transformation and change.


To prepare their organization for success, the utility developed a customized employee experience dashboard linking business and technology changes with the teams and employees who would ultimately utilize the new WMSs and tools.

The platform provided project stakeholders with a holistic understanding of employee experience insights for utilities throughout the transformation by visualizing key performance indicators (KPIs) such as change impacts, training needs, overall employee engagement and participation in the transformation process. As a result, project team members, utility executives and operations management were able to identify employee experience improvements and design personalized training and enablement plans that more accurately reflected employees’ preferences and needs.

For employees, this was a clear signal that leadership understood their strengths, weaknesses and concerns, empowering them to participate more fully in the transformation and providing evidence that people are at the core of any successful business transformation in utilities.

Image of the user interface 1

Human-centered organizational change

Transformation is now a constant for all organizations, and utilities are no exception. While there is no single recipe for transformation success, recent research emphasizes the fact that it’s people, rather than data or technology, that ultimately drive, empower and sustain an organizational change.

Understanding that transformations may bring stress to an organization can help all stakeholders embrace this human-centered approach to change, but that stress can be harnessed to drive better outcomes for individuals and the organization. By adapting and nurturing leadership skills, creating an inspiring vision of the future, building a caring culture and empowering employees to build a collaborative work environment, there is an opportunity to dramatically increase the likelihood of executing a high-performing transformation.

While easier said than done, developing a human-focused approach to transformation begins with combating the skepticism that employees and leaders themselves might have regarding their organization’s aptitude for change. As utilities reorient themselves to meet growing employee and consumer demands, there is a great opportunity to shift the organizational mindset to one that is focused on people.

Leveraging a tool like the employee experience dashboard can help utilities ensure their people are engaged with the right types of communications and provides leadership with quick insights to gauge how their employees are adapting to the change prior to go-live.

Image of the user interface 1

Transforming the way your organization operates while reorienting your focus around people is no simple task, but the outcomes are clear. Companies that place their people at the center of change enjoy high-performing transformations more than three-quarters of the time, demonstrating that people are at the core of success.

Insights for utilities

Every utility company will have its own unique needs as it transforms itself to match rising consumer expectations, energy transition goals and changing regulatory requirements. While there is no single answer to these challenges, the insights and opportunities offered by an EX platform lay the groundwork for future transformative success. By putting humans at the center of a transformation and leveraging data-driven employee experience insights to understand how employees feel about the change, operational and technological improvements will flow from the employee to the customer, leading to better customer experiences and improving overall customer satisfaction.


Utilities are striving to keep their employees at the center of their transformations. When managers and the C-suite stay transparent, motivational, cooperative and empathetic during periods of change, the likelihood of a successful transformation rises by almost 75%.

A utility company’s workforce, whether in the field, the back office or on the customer care team, plays a key part in its success. Maintaining, or even boosting, worker happiness during business transformations is crucial for the effort’s success and strongly correlates with better customer experiences and satisfaction.

About this article

Related articles

Three ways to move energy consumers from interest to action

Consumers are more interested than ever in clean energy options but 70% say they won’t spend more of their time or money to take action. Read more.

08 Feb 2024 Greg Guthridge

Three steps to boost employee retention in the power and utilities industry

Three steps to help the power and utilities industry boost employee attraction and retention.

13 Jun 2023 Tom Taliaferro

Energy providers can guide consumers in the transition

Energy is now a personal priority for consumers, with big implications for energy providers that risk being left behind. Discover more.

29 Nov 2022 Greg Guthridge

An energy company’s transformation for the 21st-century customer

Learn how Xcel Energy is building trusted relationships with customers and helping lead the energy transition through innovative products and services.

28 Oct 2022 Minsoo Pak + 2