Five Priorities for HR Leaders On the Way to Recovery
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Five Priorities for HR Leaders on the Way to Recovery

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The following content is sponsored by PwC

Workforce of the Future Workforce of the Future Workforce of the Future

Five Priorities for HR Leaders on the Way to Recovery

The future of the workplace remains uncertain, with business leaders facing unique hurdles heading into 2021. To help set the course, recent PwC reports reveal five key takeaways for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) as businesses refine their recovery strategies and transition plans.

With polling data from thousands of U.S.-based employees and executives throughout 2020, the above graphic uncovers critical priorities to help HR leaders navigate 2021—from fostering workplace safety and well-being to implementing technology that promotes engagement.

Priority 1: Physical Safety, Comfort, Health & Performance

Employee anxiety is running high, with polls revealing that employees are concerned about getting sick—and the risk discourages them from returning to the workplace.

  • 51% of employees fear getting sick from returning to the workplace
  • 50% would like workplace safety measures established, to feel comfortable returning
  • 45% would like safety and hygiene requirements implemented for customers
  • 35% would like contact tracing to be used, with realtime notifications if a coworker is diagnosed with COVID-19

By implementing measures to keep employees healthy, employees may feel more confident as companies transition back into the workplace.

Priority 2: Supporting Mental Health & Wellness

Studies show that employees perform better when they have workplace flexibility—and they can thrive when leaders support their well-being. The importance of mental health and wellness at work has increased under the weight of the pandemic.

Polling found that:

  • 36% of employees would like to see more humility, compassion, and empathic behaviors from their leadership
  • 33% would like to to see corporate investment in wellbeing programs, which would make them more confident in their ability to do their job
  • 72% would like to work remotely to some extent after the pandemic
  • 84% of CHROs intend to increase support for wellbeing and mental health

Investing in mental health can pay dividends, with the World Health Organization reporting that for every dollar spent on mental health treatment, $4 is gained in productivity.

Priority 3: Enable Remote Work with the Right Tools & Training

As employees continue to work remotely, there’s a pressing need to upgrade technology and resources required to be productive, collaborative, and create.

  • 55% of HR leaders were planning to implement hardware and equipment upgrades to help employees stay productive when working remotely
  • 53% were planning for improved mobile experiences for applications and data, as well as security policies to support remote work
  • Upwards of 36% of employees believed their organization was already very effective at collaboration and communication

With many organizations planning to incorporate some form of remote work into their long-term strategies, technology continues to be integral to support working remotely.

Priority 4: Maintain Organizational Culture for a Hybrid Workforce

Culture and engagement looked very different in the shifting landscape of 2020, and that will likely continue to evolve in 2021.

  • 41% of CHROs worry about weakened work culture in the virtual world
  • Nearly 50% have focused on employee productivity efforts on new virtual tools and training
  • 80% are planning for new employee benefits
  • 75% are planning for employee upskilling

While many remote employees report they may be more productive during the pandemic, CHROs should help confirm it’s sustainable in the long-term.

Priority 5: Leveraging Data Analytics

Studies show that better employee experiences can contribute to improved revenue growth, and PwC polls indicate that:

  • 42% of CFOs are optimizing their approach to data analytics to improve revenue
  • 35% are moving their applications and/or to the cloud
  • 40% of workplace leaders are concerned about workplace safety

As executives experience concern over whether long-term remote work could impact engagement and productivity—focus has been placed on leveraging data analytics and digital assets to quantify and help inform corporate strategies.

Opportunities on the Road to Recovery

Even with COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, uncertainty about the future of our work environments is high, posing unique challenges ahead for CHROs. However, those challenges can present strategic opportunities for work improvements—from digital assets and productivity, to mental health and well-being.

Note: All statistics are from the same PwC U.S. CFO Pulse survey unless otherwise stated. PwC surveyed 330 US CFOs and finance leaders between June 8-11, 2020. 88% percent of the respondents were from public and private companies in these top five sectors: health industries (9%), consumer markets (13%), financial services (23%), industrial products (23%), and technology, media and telecommunications (20%). Twenty-nine percent of respondents were from Fortune 1000 companies. The PwC CFO Pulse Survey is conducted on a periodic basis to track changing sentiment and priorities. Now in its sixth installment, the inaugural survey was conducted March 9-11, 2020.

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Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

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Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta25.816.3
Vistra22.497.0
OGE Energy21.518.2
AES Corporation19.849.9
Southern Company18.077.8
Evergy14.623.6
Alliant Energy14.414.1
DTE Energy14.229.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
Entergy13.840.5
WEC Energy13.522.2
Ameren12.831.6
Duke Energy12.096.6
Xcel Energy11.943.3
Dominion Energy11.037.8
Emera11.016.6
PNM Resources10.55.6
PPL Corporation10.428.7
American Electric Power9.250.9
Consumers Energy8.716.1
NRG Energy8.229.8
Florida Power and Light8.041.0
Portland General Electric7.66.9
Fortis Inc.6.112.6
Avangrid5.111.6
PSEG3.99.0
Exelon3.834.0
Consolidated Edison1.66.3
Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
Next Era Energy Resources01.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
Gas63%52%
Coal29%15%
Nuclear6%9%
Renewables1%24%
Oil1%0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who serve millions of Americans.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

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The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

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Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source) CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt 28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant 10%
Galvanized Steel 6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping 2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

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