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As a premier infrastructure company, Essential offers a wide array of exciting and challenging opportunities for careers that support our mission to provide natural resources for life.
We recognize our 3,000+ employees are our greatest asset in delivering life’s most essential resources, and we seek to build a talented, skilled and diverse workforce that values teamwork as well as a steadfast commitment to our customers and environment. The Essential companies, including our Aqua and Peoples utilities, are committed to providing professional opportunities for career growth, competitive benefits packages and a respectful workplace for every employee across the states we serve. We’re dedicated to creating a culture that empowers employees, where all people feel welcomed, respected and recognized for their contributions. At our core, our team is about respect, integrity and the pursuit of excellence.
Essential’s board of directors takes a keen interest in all aspects of human capital management and recognizes that our ability to attract, retain, and develop exceptional talent is a key strategic driver for our organization. The Chief Human Resources Officer regularly presents updates to the board, engaging in strategic discussion with the group regarding various topics as outlined below.
Safety is one of Essential’s primary commitments. Through continuous improvement efforts, we are establishing a high performing and cohesive safety program across our gas and water businesses. With this program, we proactively manage employee safety risks, support a healthy safety culture and position Essential as a leader among peers through safety prioritization and encouragement of safety ownership at all levels. Our commitment to safety is highlighted through the firm implementation of our safety program, which is flexible and adaptive in order to meet the varying needs of our complex businesses. The core components of this program include:
Management Commitment: Essential’s leaders are dedicated to supporting safety by incorporating it into corporate targets and goals, such as Essential’s short-term incentive plan (20% weighting). Focusing on these goals not only helps us compare ourselves to industry peers but also helps us to evaluate ourselves with an eye toward our own past performance. With this commitment, we emphasize the outcomes of our safety efforts, which concentrate on striving towards zero injuries and accidents. Senior leadership and safety staff receive weekly reports of both the current week’s incidents and totals for the year.
In 2023, our water and wastewater operations joined our gas operations in implementing a Senior Leadership Safety Council, Safety Steering Committee, and individual state safety committees. By the end of 2023, we are further implementing division or facility safety committees. The regular meetings focus on specific topics to the group as well as communicating between the committees to ensure that front line safety concerns are raised to the appropriate level, even senior leadership, to address.
Employee Engagement: The basis of our safety culture is an engaged workforce, which is nurtured through positive reinforcement of safety program participation, establishing mechanisms for employees to raise safety concerns, rigorously addressing hazards and thoroughly investigating incidents. Not only have our employees internalized their authority to stop work but are also actively involved in identifying safety solutions. In this way, we promote a speak-up culture and work to proactively address the safety hazards our employees may face. For those hazards, we work to communicate to all levels of our workforce to share lessons learned through safety briefs, newsletters, internal website publications and all-employee video events.
Hazard Identification and Mitigation: Identifying the hazards that our employees face is paramount to maintaining our safety culture, and mitigating these hazards is key to protecting our work family. Therefore, safety hazard analysis is one of the most critical aspects of our safety program and is a focus of our safety program auditing program.
Hazard recognition and control are also integral to our incident investigation processes and emergency response plans. Essential employees have access to an anonymous helpline and website, which is available 24/7/365 to confidentially report concerns regarding ethics, compliance Or safety issues. We also have a 24/7/365 nurse care line used on all calls other than emergencies that require an immediate emergency room visit. There is a concurrent process to engage our worker’s compensation carrier and an occupational clinic. Through these hazard identification efforts, we work to control our risks, with management and employees working together to either eliminate hazards or control the threats to employee safety. The effectiveness of the controls is reviewed and improved during root cause analyses of incidents and near misses. We actively participate in industry safety efforts through the American Gas Association (AGA) and the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC).
A near miss program, named Safety Learning Opportunity internally, has been in place for Essential’s gas operations for many years and was implemented in 2022 for its water and wastewater operations. This program spans from the traditional reporting of behavioral near misses to reporting of unsafe conditions, environmental potential, potential property damage and last barrier challenged incidents. We have empowered our employees with “stop work authority” to shut down work to reassess any dangers. A safety alert is issued within one week of any injury and this is followed by a more in-depth investigation. These findings are then shared with leadership and presented to all managers and supervisors on weekly calls throughout the company.
Safety Training: Another important tool to reduce safety risks in the workplace is through effective safety training. Training is vital for employees to understand the safety practices and expectations that are part of their jobs. Training also empowers employees to recognize safety hazards in the moment and take steps to correct them to prevent a potential injury. Essential provides safety-related training through multiple methods, from in-person courses to on-the-job training, to computer-based lessons, and informal safety discussions and meetings. In this way, Essential’s leadership and management team continues to support and strengthen safety in our workplaces.
Contractor Safety: Across much of our operations, contractors must provide their OSHA 300 log of the previous year’s injury data and their experience modification insurance rating (EMR). Most states hold contractor meetings at least annually to discuss changes, feedback and project information. Our gas operations utilize a contractor safety program, and we are assessing opportunities for expansion to our water and wastewater operations.
No program is complete without effective ways to measure safety performance and make improvements based on these metrics. To accomplish this, Essential monitors safety through a variety of mechanisms. As noted in the table below, safety performance has improved over the past three years across the organization.
|Water and wastewater||1.5||1.2||1.5||3.13|
|Water and wastewater||24||21||23||N/A|
|Water and Wastewater||2.5||3.3||2.9|
|Water and wastewater||42||42||49|
1 This data only pertains to full-time Essential employees.
2 Employee injuries resulting in days away from work, job restriction, or transfer
3 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
4 According to the American Gas Association: Rate = Number of Lost Time and Restricted Duty Injuries * 200,000 / Hours Worked. Same as DART rate.
5 Rate = # RVAs/miles driven*1,000,000
We believe that our success depends on employees’ understanding how their work contributes to Essential’s overall strategy.
We use a variety of communication channels to facilitate open and direct dialogue, including open forums with our executives, monthly town halls, regular engagement surveys, and employee resource groups and regular performance feedback sessions between employees and their supervisors.
Essential’s workforce is surveyed semi-annually to gauge employees’ perspective on key drivers of engagement. Consistent with pandemic era benchmarking available through our survey vendor, workers at Essential reported a reduction in satisfaction with many of the factors contributing to engagement, and overall satisfaction declined between Spring 2021 to Spring 2022. In addition to the challenges of the pandemic, the workforce also navigated the integration of new policies, programs, systems and organizational changes. Based on a combination of these factors, we determined it was helpful to return office employees to the workplace. Leadership recognized employees’ desire to maintain the flexibility that contributed to work-life balance, so we offered hybrid work arrangements to many office employees. Stabilization of systems, organizations and employment related policies and programs led to a gradual increase in employee satisfaction in late 2022.
We have also implemented efforts targeted at building a culture of engagement, including increased communication that provides necessary context for changes in a timely manner, introduction of leadership development programs and localized employee participation in post survey action planning
|Dimensions||Essential December 2022||U.S. Benchmark as of November 20221|
|Percentage of employees who responded to the survey||59||75|
(treated with respect)
(managers provide feedback for improvement)
|Communication - Team
(open communication between team members)
(decisions regarding work)
(consider their needs)
(needed to do job well))
(diverse perspectives are valued)
|Work Life Balance
(balance work and personal life)
(great place to work)
(can be met)
(learn and grow at Essential)
|Compensation and Benefits
(understand the competitive value)
(satisfied with the recognition and praise)
(demonstrate the stated culture and values)
(belong at Essential)
|Purpose – Mission Driven – Culture
(makes decisions that align with the mission)
(the work is well organized)
|Future Success – Culture
(right culture to be successful in the future)
(collaborate effectively to get things done)
(continuously improves the way work gets done)
(satisfied with decisions made)
(meaningful action will be taken)
1 Comprised of 350 peer firms
Key insights and action items from this survey include the following:
Communication within departments and teams continues to be strong, however employees noted a challenge with cross department collaboration. Leadership at all levels recognizes this opportunity and is committed to identifying stakeholders and working together to manage expectations for involvement outside of their department.
The need for information delivered in an engaging, timely manner that is focused on cascading relevant updates on strategies, programs and processes to the workforce led to partnerships between all departments and corporate communications.
Participation in leadership development programs is strongly encouraged to provide management with insight to demonstrating the skills needed to engage employees.
The need for communication, training and performance coaching through periods of technological and procedural changes was a key driver of the expansion of the performance management program to the hourly union workforce within our water and wastewater operations.
|Retirements||Voluntary Turnover (Excluding Retirements)||Involuntary Turnover|
|Executive/ Sr. Manager Turnover||1%||0%||0%|
We work best together under a single compensation program designed to reward employees similarly who have an equivalent impact on company results.
We also believe in treating employees who joined the Essential team through acquisitions in a fair and equitable manner, therefore we have focused on harmonizing all employee compensation packages to one Essential program. This ensures that total employee compensation will remain at comparable levels aligned with market medians.
Essential believes the following:
Because 48% of our employees represented by a labor union, Essential leverages an interest-based approach rooted in partnership between the company and union to achieve goals that are important to both our employees and our other stakeholders. We strive to promote a safe, engaging, inclusive and respectful workplace for all union and non-union employees alike.
We outline commitments and principles related to the following:
The company’s hiring model is to hire and employ directly. However, during peak periods, for high volume positions or for special projects and in a limited capacity, temporary or contract workers are used. It is common for these temporary workers to be subsequently hired on as a regular, full-time employee.
Essential recognizes how important benefits are to our employees. That’s why we’re committed to helping our employees enjoy the best possible physical, financial, and emotional well-being. It’s also why we provide a comprehensive, highly competitive benefits package, with the flexibility to make the choices that best meets our employees’ needs.
Employees who average 30 hours or more per week receive full-time benefits. Thus, over 99% of our total employees are offered the following benefits:
Employee wellness is critical to the success of our business. Studies have shown wellness programs help reduce absenteeism, health care costs and employee turnover, while improving employee morale, strengthening recruitment efforts and enhancing the quality of life for employees. At Essential, we don’t only focus on physical health but also financial and mental well-being with our education and benefits offerings.
We work with our employees to fully understand all proactive wellness benefits available to them through our insurance, including smoking cessation, nutrition services and gym memberships. In addition, we offer onsite gyms and cafeterias with heathy meal choices at several of our facilities.
Through our wellness administration and services vendor, employees have access to an interactive website that helps them to reach their wellness goals including eating better, getting fit, reducing stress and managing certain health conditions. Through this website, employees can develop confidential personal health profiles, use online progress trackers and to-do lists to meet their health goals, access self-guided online workshops, participate in interactive competitions and campaigns and access educational tip sheets and recipes.
All employees are also provided regular meetings with a nutritionist as part of their health insurance plan. We have a recommended list of local nutrition resources at various locations across our operations footprint.
Corporate goals, mission and values drive talent management strategies, so Essential evaluates its talent management programs annually to ensure alignment. The following goals serve as the guiding objectives of talent management programs and services:
Essential’s talent management and development model reflects the lifecycle of the employee experience including:
Selection and onboarding to ensure the organization has skilled, talented people in the right positions to leverage their capabilities. Through the use of behavioral based interviewing, assessments for leadership roles, and objective selection criteria, the process for identifying people for jobs provides both the organization and the candidate with the ability to mutually determine fit.
Foundational skills and capability programs are designed to ensure expectations are clearly understood and that employees have the skills necessary to adapt to changes in technology, procedures and goals. These include structured corporate and job specific orientation, procedure training and assimilation programs for all employees. A formal leadership curriculum for supervisors and managers ensures they have the necessary skills to manage and lead employees in an engaging, objective manner.
Performance management and development programs provide the necessary feedback mechanisms to ensure employee efforts are meeting expectations. Employees have the support they need to be successful in the organization through coaching and training. All employees receive goals and feedback through the annual performance management program consisting of both a mid- and year-end performance feedback sessions.
Using the best practice 70-20-10 approach to development, Essential recognizes 10% of acquiring new knowledge occurs through a formal learning experience, 20% of development occurs through feedback from assessment and coaching and 70% of development occurs when an employee applies the formal learning and feedback in on the job and related scenarios. Formal training sessions reflect this approach as well by introducing skills, practicing the techniques and receiving feedback in a supportive environment.
Essential contributes to personal and professional growth by providing several learning opportunities through partnerships with one of the leading online learning providers, business school certificate programs, tuition reimbursement for post-secondary degree granting programs and individual career coaching. Ninety-three percent of eligible employees utilize professional development courses offered by Essential. In addition, recognition programs are in place to support retention and acknowledge employees’ contributions.
Essential has organizational workforce planning programs to ensure the company has the talent it needs for the future. We have designed workforce analysis and succession planning programs to identify future staffing and skills needs. By conducting stay interviews with key performers, Essential learns where talent risks may arise. Leadership development partnerships with Drexel University and the university-based business school certificate programs through ExecOnline are available to help develop leaders for advanced roles in the organization. In addition, Essential forms partnerships with community-based organizations to provide subject matter expertise and labor market career development programs to serve as a source for developing candidate pools. Employees’ career goals are supported by offering them growth and development opportunities; they are encouraged to actively participate in development discussions with their supervisors and the talent management team.
Our teams work diligently, day in and day out, to provide the natural resources our customers need to run their homes and businesses.
It is Essential’s responsibility to support them by creating an environment where people of all backgrounds, ages, races, abilities and sexual orientations can collaborate, learn from each other and thrive. We believe we can build an even stronger company the more we focus on growing an equitable and inclusive workforce – one where all employees know they are valued and respected for who they are and for the contributions they make.
We have multi-objective approach to transition toward a more diverse and inclusive company. Our strategies include:
In 2021, we also added our new diversity goal (5% weighting) to our short-term incentive plan. By tying our diversity targets directly to executive compensation, we are encouraging our management team to prioritize and further building diversity in our operations.
We have already seen success in our efforts. In 2022, our diversity hiring for the organization grew by more than 16% from 2021. Twenty-two percent of the management team comprised is of women and 11% are leaders of color. More than 55% of the board of directors is diverse, including 33% female directors.
We are proud of the progress we have made in diversity, but we believe we can improve, particularly when engaging our customers, partners and peers in our DE&I efforts. We have a range of diverse recruitment tactics, many of which are supported through diversity associations and job boards for minorities, veterans and women engineers. We also recruit new talent from local community colleges and city-based universities.
Diversity of backgrounds, ideas and experiences is essential to our culture and the way we do business. Creating an environment where our differences are valued and where every person feels a sense of belonging and engagement supports a thriving organization that cares about our customers. Essential regularly conducts education and unconscious bias workshops to foster better understanding of points of view and how pre-conceived notions impact relationships at work. We also want to ensure employees of color experience equity and inclusion at Essential. Essential hosts Diversity, Black and Women’s Employee Resource Groups to help ensure our employees feel supported in their professional growth at all levels.
ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups of coworkers with shared characteristics or life experiences that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices and objectives. Benefits of ERGs include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement and a strong culture of inclusion, which creates fertile conditions for diversity to thrive. We have listed, below, the affinity-based ERGs that are currently active at Essential, but we encourage and support formation of new groups, which we anticipate we will have in the near future.
Pride Resource Group
Essential’s Pride Resource Group was founded in 2021 to create a safe place for LGBTQ+ employees to meet with their allies, be heard and work together to make positive change for workplace inclusivity. The group's executive sponsor is Essential's Chief Human Resources Officer. Serving employees with a broad range of identities, the group is open to all employees who support LGBTQ+ rights and equality. While discriminating against workers for their gender identity or sexual orientation is illegal and prohibited as per Essential’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment Policy, there is still much work to be done for all LGBTQ+ employees to feel comfortable in many workplaces. The Pride Resource Group works to combat such challenges to improve the experience of LGBTQ+ employees at Essential.
Since its founding, the Pride ERG has had many accomplishments, including growing its membership, hosting educational programs, discussing opportunities to improve employee experience at Essential, organizing social events, raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, supporting local philanthropies and events and facilitating dialogue among its members in a safe and caring space.
Essential has published its full, unmodified 2021 EEO-1 summary table here. The EEO-1 Summary Table is the current benchmark for companies to disclose gender and racial diversity data. With a format and methodology set by the federal government, this table is directly comparable to the same disclosure made by other companies. Essential has not modified the established categories and the only changes are related to formatting for ease of review. Further, our EEO-1 Summary Table is inclusive of all Essential operations.
Our Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment Policy is located here.
1 Gender and racial diversity data included in this report is as of 12/31/22. Essential's EEO-1 Report, included in this report is as of 12/31/21.