While many businesses are attempting to bring employees back to the office, MDU Utilities Group has embraced remote work as a solution to recruitment and retention challenges for customer service positions.
In fact, Jennifer Correia and Angie Robertson, both customer service supervisors with the utility group, are leading the way within the utility industry on embracing and implementing a successful remote work strategy.
The supervisor duo recently shared their expertise with remote work by presenting at the Western Energy Institute’s Customer + Corporate Symposium. The topic caught the attention of many conference attendees, resulting in a standing-room-only crowd and the largest number of attendees at any breakout session.
Correia and Robertson said they wanted to share their success with hiring remote staff because utilities are losing employees due to employers’ return-to-office requirements, which makes the already difficult task of recruiting and retaining employees for inbound customer service roles even more challenging.
“We want our fellow utility companies to know that remote work can be successful, and we want to help make a shift in other companies,” Correia said.
“Many who attended our presentation found it mind blowing that this works,” Robertson added.
Telecommuting and generations at work
In their presentation, Correia and Robertson shared their strategy with using remote staff, as well as the importance of understanding the different generations in the workforce. Both topics tie into employee recruitment, retention, engagement and development.
“For the first time, the national workforce consists of five generations, and the Utility Group’s customer service team is a perfect example of this,” Robertson noted. “Our team includes employees as young as 19 years old, up to 73 years old.”
A third point Robertson and Correia also emphasized was the importance of support from leadership.
“We wouldn’t be as successful as we are without the support from our leaders,” Correia noted.
Due to the popularity of their presentation at the Customer + Corporate Symposium, WEI asked Correia and Robertson to write an article based on their presentation. It was featured in the association’s spring magazine.
About their team
Correia and Robertson manage their team of nine customer service team leads and 98 customer service representatives. There is a small staff who work from offices in Boise, Idaho, and Bismarck, North Dakota. The remaining employees work remotely from locations spanning the Utilities’ local service territories.
Support from the Utility Group’s local offices has been instrumental in helping build a culture and connection with remote customer service representatives and the company. Correia and Robertson introduce remote employees to the Utility Group’s nearest local office. After that, remote employees are invited to that office for safety meetings, United Way luncheons and other employee activities.
MDU Utilities Group is a subsidiary of MDU Resources.