ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER MAY 2019 | 31
Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities
• Community Sustainability
• Customer Satisfaction
• Employee and Leadership Development
• Enterprise Resiliency
• Financial Viability
• Infrastructure Strategy and Performance
• Operational Optimization
• Product Quality
• Stakeholder Understanding and Support
• Water Resource Sustainability
SOURCE: USEPA, 2017
• Implement career counseling, leadership, and skill training
programs to respond to the new set of required utility skills.
• Develop and implement apprenticeship programs.
As mentioned previously, USEPA and several water sector
organizations (including AWWA and WEF) developed and
launched the EUM framework in 2008 and released the EUM
Primer, the go-to handbook of the EUM program. The two
core components of the framework are the Ten Attributes of
Effectively Managed Utilities and the Five Keys to Management
Success (see sidebars above).
Workforce issues have always been part of the EUM framework,
both as one of the attributes—Employee and Leadership
Development—and again as one of the keys in Knowledge
Management. It’s not by accident that the definition of
the Employee and Leadership Development Attribute— that
is, the practices that high-achieving and effective utilities
exhibit— mirror some of the most pressing challenges facing
utilities. Said another way, implement the following practices
at a high level and your workforce issues will be well
addressed (and on the way to being solved).
• Recruit, develop and retain a workforce that is competent,
motivated, adaptive, and safety-focused.
• Establish a participatory, collaborative organization
dedicated to continual learning, improvement, and
Five Keys to Management Success
2. Strategic Business Planning
3. Knowledge Management
5. Continual Improvement
SOURCE: USEPA, 2017
• Ensure employee institutional knowledge is retained,
transferred, and improved upon over time.
• Provide a focus on and emphasize opportunities for
professional and leadership development, taking into
account the differing needs and expectations of a
multi-generational workforce and for resource recovery
• Establish an integrated and well-coordinated senior leadership
What are we doing about it?
Fast forward to the present. In its 15th annual State of the
Water Industry (SOTWI) report, AWWA reported that
“workforce issues” was one of the top-10 issues that survey
respondents identified as “critically important” (Murphy,
This is important for two reasons. First, workforce issues
has not been in the top 10 in the SOTWI for several years.
Beginning around the turn of the millennium and well into
the middle and latter half of the 2000s, workforce issues
emerged and became a steady part of the dialogue in utility
management circles. But then 2008 happened (and 2009,
2010, and 2011), and those about to leave the workforce
stayed as their 401(k)s shrank and their retirement plans got
postponed, and the focus on issues swung heavily to infrastructure,
finances, water supply, and regulations.
With the return of a healthier economy, the long-predicted
and much-awaited departure has commenced and along with
the top five or six recurring issues, “aging workforce/anticipat