DEPENDABLE, from page 7
percent in 2019. We are a 100 percent employee-owned (ESOP) company and that means that I, and the rest of Ulteig leadership, have a responsibility to be as transparent as possible about finances, strategies, and results. We survey our workforce often, and I’m proud to say that our transparency always gets high marks. Flexibility has been identified by employees as one of the most valuable benefits of working at Ulteig. We encourage employees to work with their managers to create schedules that will meet the needs of our clients and each of our employees’ unique circumstances. We also have a highly active company-wide culture committee, staffed by volunteers from all our locations. They focus on building a positive work environment and employee engagement through fun internal activities and community involvement. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? DJ: Our managers care about their employees and invest in them. Leadership development is a vital component to our future success – we equip our managers with the tools they need to keep their teams engaged and productive. We are developing a customized Manager Development Program that will launch this year to ensure each manager has the training and opportunity to be a successful leader at Ulteig. We are providing deeper employee engagement data and feedback to managers, to help them focus their efforts on the areas that will have the biggest impact. We’re also strengthening employee development with a more comprehensive “roadmap” to ensure employees have the resources they need to grow within Ulteig. The roadmap includes promoting “career aspirations conversations” between employees and their managers to help them build more effective career development plans. TZL: What novel approaches are you bringing to recruitment, and how are your brand and differentiators performing in the talent wars? DJ: An important differentiator for us in the market is our strong internship program that allows aspiring engineers to do real project work, something not all companies provide. We also fund scholarships at several engineering schools. Many interns and scholarship recipients join Ulteig as employees after finishing school. Thanks to Ulteig’s strong culture and highly-engaged workforce, our employee-owners are enthusiastic advocates for our company. In 2019, almost 40 percent of our new hires were referred by current employees. The number of applicants for open positions keeps growing each year, as does the size of our workforce, which grew by 40 percent in 2019. Ulteig’s brand is synonymous with its Lifeline Sectors® of power, renewables, transportation, and water. Since we support these vital components of infrastructure, we’ve been classified as part of the essential critical
Ulteig volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House.
infrastructure workforce that Americans depend on during the pandemic response. This puts us in a unique position during this challenging time – we can offer meaningful, purposeful work, which can be particularly attractive to top talent in a difficult labor market. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? DJ: We’ve partnered with diverse professional organizations and student groups for years, but we recognize that there’s more to be done. Ulteig is strengthening its D&I strategy by diving deeper into understanding current barriers, setting and executing our D&I priorities, and engaging all employees and leaders in our efforts. In 2020, Ulteig is launching a new initiative called “cultural mindsets” to stimulate employee-driven solutions toward a more innovative, inclusive, and authentic culture. TZL: You’ve spent the last 25 years in leadership roles in and around the energy and technical service sectors. What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in these sectors? DJ: In the electric power sector, the movement toward zero-carbon and the significant engagement of renewable energy has been transformational. At the same time, in the broader technical service sectors (including transportation and water), we’ve seen major investments in automation and data management for system planning, operations, and design. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? DJ: We’re in the middle of a three-year strategic plan that maps out the specific steps we’re taking to grow the business (paying particular attention to our current economic climate). 2019 was our 75th year of operation and it was our best year in terms of financial performance and growth. This is what employees want to see as they consider their long-term commitment to the organization. I’d like to think we’ve got some pretty compelling reasons for employees to stick around!
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THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 3, 2020, ISSUE 1355
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