Weather the storm…preparing the utility workforce for extreme events

Unplanned events such as extreme weather create significant operational issues for all organisations, but the effects are felt particularly acutely in the utilities sector.

With crucial network assets exposed to the elements, energy and water companies are quite literally in the front line - with disruption having serious knock-on economic and social consequences.

Such situations can create a converging set of threats for utility companies, including public health and safety issues, lower customer satisfaction levels, negative media profile and the potential for significant regulator fines. 

How quickly and effectively an organisation responds to a crisis can dictate the amount of reputational and financial damage it ultimately suffers. 

Traditionally it has been accepted that this urgency means Working Time Regulations and general cost scrutiny are put to one side as required resources are mobilised to get critical services back on line. 

But does it really need to be like this? 

This article briefly explores how utility companies can use workforce planning processes and technology to prepare as effectively as possible for extreme events such as bad weather. 

It will examine: 

  • How historical demand data can be used to understand and anticipate the impact of extreme events on the workforce.
  • How scenario modelling can be used to create emergency plans and patterns which lessen the impact of major incidents on employees and budgets.
  • How effective workforce management tools can support risk assessment and Working Time Regulations compliance…even during the most challenging of circumstances.

Utility companies can use shift patterns to model crisis response during extreme weather

The predictive power of data:      

Whilst the severity and precise impact of an unplanned event can’t always be accurately predicted, there is still much that can be done to understand how it might affect labour supply and demand. 

Rigorous analysis of historical working time data and schedules can...


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