Career Development and Learning


Percentage of favorable responses from employees who responded to a survey, exceeding our target for employee engagement

Planning for California’s energy future means more than investing in our system and our energy supply. It also means investing in our workforce. A key priority at PG&E today is developing a next-generation workforce with the skills and expertise to operate our business safely, reliably and affordably, while meeting our customers’ evolving energy needs. This includes creating a culture that encourages and rewards continuous learning and development, and provides our people with career pathways that allow them to grow within PG&E.

Engaging Our Employees

Engaged employees understand PG&E’s vision, feel a sense of ownership for our success, and actively contribute to improve our business performance across the board in areas such as safety, customer satisfaction, financial performance and environmental leadership.

In 2012, we once again used an employee survey to measure employee engagement in a way that can be benchmarked. Our employee engagement score showed a favorable response from 71 percent of survey respondents—four points higher than the prior year and nearly two points higher than our target. We also achieved a record response rate of 81 percent to the voluntary survey that is sent to all employees.

Yammer logo
In 2012, PG&E piloted Yammer with our workforce. Yammer is a leading enterprise social network used by more than 200,000 companies worldwide, including 85 percent of companies in the Fortune 500. With more than 6,000 employees participating, Yammer is a fast, efficient tool for fostering better communication, collaboration and networking across our workforce. It’s also helping to improve our overall organizational effectiveness by allowing us to tap new opportunities like crowdsourcing.

In response to survey feedback, PG&E leaders developed targeted employee engagement “action plans" that are currently being implemented. We have measures in place to hold leaders accountable for driving engagement within their teams, including a formal performance goal related to engagement and the action planning process. We have also set an engagement goal specific to diversity and inclusion.

Moving forward, our employee survey will be fielded every two years, a best practice among companies, to allow more time to execute on action plans to address issues identified in the survey. Interim surveys targeting smaller groups of employees will be held between cycles.

Providing Technical Training

We provide a range of technical training to support our business operations. Training is focused on ensuring employees have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely using approved work procedures, while also preparing the next generation of utility workers. We are also investing in training to help integrate new technologies, systems and processes into our operations, in keeping with our focus on innovation and modernization.

Last year, we conducted training at PG&E’s Livermore Training and Qualification Center, San Ramon Valley Conference Center and our Tracy Training Facility. The Livermore facility is a 44-acre, state-of-the-art training complex designed to provide hands-on learning experiences for gas and electric transmission and distribution employees. The facility in San Ramon offers a variety of additional technical courses in a classroom setting. The Tracy Training Facility is a site for high quality gas construction training for recently hired utility workers. PG&E expects to further expand its training capacity with a new state-of-the-art gas training facility in 2015.

Beyond our primary training facilities, we are also bringing the classroom to employees through virtual training options. Delivered over the web, virtual learning allows employees to attend courses at or near their work location, saving travel time. PG&E also uses two mobile training centers that allow PG&E to conveniently conduct brief, on-site trainings with employees.

locate-and-mark training

PG&E has been conducting locate-and-mark training in neighborhoods to make sure that our workers are prepared for real-world conditions.

Some highlights from our training programs last year included:

  • Enhanced classroom and field training on locating and marking the precise location of gas pipelines to ensure public and employee safety in connection with projects that involve digging near underground assets.
  • A one-year pre-apprentice line worker program, developed with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, which provides candidates formal training and assessments that prepare them to become apprentice linemen.
  • An improved gas utility worker program designed to cover the end-to-end processes needed to perform basic gas operations work safely and effectively. The course, which is required for all new gas utility workers, covers tasks such as assisting with installing a new residential service.
  • Training on the use of new mobile technologies being deployed in our gas and electric operations, which allow crews to access digital maps, technical information and project-related documents to increase safety and improve response times and communication.
  • Specialized training, such as our backhoe simulator that enables employees to learn to operate such equipment in a virtual setting. This approach also cuts down on wear and tear on equipment and reduces emissions.

Career and Leadership Development

At PG&E, we are committed to fostering career development and to integrating succession planning and professional development into our long-term strategic planning process.

Our efforts to build a career path for employees begin with an employee’s first day on the job through a robust onboarding program designed to engage and inspire new employees. Throughout their careers, employees have access to a package of more than 25 career development courses, an active mentoring program, tuition reimbursement for qualifying education expenses and other tools help them to grow in their current roles and advance over the long term.

We are also equipping leaders with new tools, including a range of leadership training:

  • Safety Leadership Workshops, designed to align all leaders around a new set of safety principles and further embed safety into our operational practices and culture. Topics include creating a healthy safety climate, coaching employees, and promoting and recognizing safe behaviors. By mid-2013, we expect all of PG&E’s leaders to have completed the workshop.
  • Supervisor Leadership Program, a three-week program designed to develop highly-skilled supervisors who can effectively lead their teams. Using classroom training and on-the-job learning, the program focuses on engaging employees, demonstrating accountability, managing performance and serving our customers. By the end of 2012, approximately 500 of our supervisors had completed the program; all supervisors will have started the program by the end of 2014. A similar, one-week Manager Leadership Program was successfully piloted in 2012 and all managers will have started the program by the end of 2015.
  • Training for leading effective “tailboards,” pre-work meetings run by crew leads and front-line supervisors that cover the potential risks and hazards of a job and review safe work methods. Performing a tailboard is a required step at the start of every day on a job site and when work conditions or tasks change. More than 2,000 leaders in Electric Operations received the training last year.

In 2012, we also began a pilot program to develop high-potential employees for critical positions in our business.

Measuring Effectiveness to Drive Continuous Improvement

Our commitment to invest in our people is clear: in 2012, employees completed more than 64,000 training days in technical and professional development training—a 25 percent increase over 2011.

Yet we recognize the importance of continuous improvement as we work to ensure our employees have the necessary skills, knowledge and qualifications to complete their work efficiently and safely. As a result, we are benchmarking with the best companies and using performance measures to inform our strategy and improve the effectiveness of our training content and delivery.

For example, we commissioned an independent study to benchmark best practices for training among North American gas and pipeline companies. We also shared the results with gas training officials from U.S. and Canadian companies that combine, transport and deliver gas—fostering dialogue on how to build safer and more effective workforces.

We also survey participating employees to measure the overall quality of the training, as well as their increased level of knowledge. Employees are required to pass a knowledge and skill assessment for each course or program that involves high-consequence tasks. As an additional measure, we are beginning to assess the degree to which employees are applying what they learned on the job. Our first assessment was conducted with eight Supervisor Leadership Program groups this year.

In Electric Operations, a knowledge assessment of every line worker was performed by PG&E leadership to identify current training gaps. This assessment allowed us to target the areas that require training or other support.

Capturing the Institutional Knowledge of Our Most Experienced Workforce

With a significant number of our employees eligible to retire in the next five years, we are focused on building and sustaining the skilled and qualified workforce PG&E needs to thrive in the long-term. However, while many employees are nearing the end of the careers, overall PG&E has a low employee turnover rate: in 2012, 3.4 percent of employees left PG&E voluntarily.

One important focus is working to capture the institutional knowledge of key personnel before they leave PG&E. We have worked to identify critical positions within PG&E that rely upon experience-based knowledge and have taken steps to retain that information by building it into formal work practices and training, or by directly training other personnel.