Three Tips for Employee Development from City Utilities

With more than 900 employees and multiple in-house employee growth programs, City Utilities knows development is essential for retention.

By Swan Snobl

Sep 2020

Exterior photo of City Utilities office
Photo courtesy City UtilitiesThe team at City Utilities knows development is essential for retention.

“Employee development can have a positive impact on cultures, attitudes and people's potential to influence a business’ success,” says Stephanie O’Connor, City Utilities (CU) associate general manager of IT and administration. O’Connor suggests implementing these steps to ensure an employee development program is productive and innovative, and engages employees in the organizational culture and community.

Find the Right People

First, O’Connor says it’s crucial to identify the right type of employee who would be suited for an intensive development program. Leadership CU has a selective application process with executive support to align the goals for the program with the organizational direction. Before a new round of the 18-month program is launched, applicants are interviewed, and their career goals, educational background, skills and experiences are all carefully considered.

Keep Training Relevant

“Employee development training should be intentional, relevant and current,” O’Connor says. In addition to industry education, Leadership CU covers a variety of topics that are reviewed every two to three years. These include media relations, public speaking, strategic abilities and executive image. At the end of the program, teams must complete a CU project that focuses on a current or future opportunity for CU.

Include Community Involvement

Internal education is important, but employees should also be engaged in the community. “Establishing connections with community and industry leaders while learning what they can do to make a positive difference is a key part of our role at City Utilities,” O’Connor says. The Leadership CU program includes participation in Leadership Springfield’s Access Class, which increases awareness of Springfield and areas for serving the community.