Work teams not only develop annual culture action plans, many also have formed local culture committees.
Research shows that companies with a strong culture and a strategic business plan outperform their peers. A strong culture fosters engaged employees and creates the foundation for long-term success. At AEP, we continually work to foster a culture that will support the adaptability and focus needed to succeed in a fast-paced, changing work environment. This includes building on our commitment to customers, safety, operational excellence and innovation.
To measure our progress AEP conducts employee culture surveys. The 2015 AEP Employee Culture Survey had an 82 percent participation rate, compared with 74 percent in 2014. The results showed meaningful improvement, especially around engagement, performance recognition and accountability. This is a strong reflection of the work we have done over the past three years to strengthen these areas of focus.
The survey also showed us that we have more work to do. To continue the momentum and continually improve, work groups develop culture action plans each year and we are currently focused on sharing best practices across the AEP system.
A strong and healthy culture is essential to help our employees understand how they contribute to AEP’s strategic goals, fostered by collaborative, supportive leaders who provide timely feedback and recognition, and continuously engage their employees. This in turn will lead to better performance, whether it’s the safety and health performance of our employees, reliability performance of the system, or interactions we have with our customers.
Engaging our Employees
Employee engagement was one of the culture focus areas that showed meaningful improvement in the 2015 AEP Employee Culture survey. In 2015, 41 percent of employees responded that they were engaged, compared to 27 percent in 2014. In addition, we saw a decrease in both employees who were not engaged and actively disengaged compared to 2014.
One way we are empowering employee engagement is through our Power up & Lead culture leadership workshop where employees learn about their own behaviors and leadership styles, and what it takes to be effective communicators. In 2015, AEP accelerated the implementation of Power up & Lead by offering several flexible options to adapt to AEP’s work force needs. We increased the number of participants from more than 1,600 in 2014 to 5,282 in 2015. Since the workshop began in 2013, more than 8,300 employees have completed Power up & Lead. AEP plans to continue an accelerated pace for the training in 2016.
To help employees understand how they contribute to the company’s overall strategic goals, AEP launched a learning map called “AEP’s Strategy for the Future.” This interactive map exercise allows small groups of employees to learn about AEP’s past successes, current challenges, what’s changing, and AEP’s strategy for future success. The learning map supports AEP’s cultural pillar of strategic alignment. More than 10,700 employees have completed the learning map since it launched in 2015.
AEP has been named to Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list in the electric and gas utilities sector for the third year in a row. Each year, Fortune surveys top executives, directors and financial analysts about the companies in their industry based upon nine criteria: financial soundness, use of corporate assets, long-term investment value, quality of management, quality of products and services, people management, innovation, social responsibility, and global competitiveness. Our employees, and AEP’s commitment to developing a culture that will support the adaptability and focus that our employees will need to succeed in a fast-paced, changing work environment, is and will continue to be the center of our success.