Training Top 125 Best Practice: Strategic Onboarding for New Supervisors at PG&E

To address challenges in hiring and retaining skilled supervisor candidates, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) developed a more business-focused onboarding solution for new supervisors that includes job-related and leadership development training.

Historically, field employees have been reluctant to pursue supervisor roles at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) because these positions were perceived as undesirable. A supervisor is an exempt classification, so this meant a field employee leaving his or her position for a supervisor role would walk away from significant overtime, while working similar hours with increased responsibility. To address these challenges in hiring and retaining skilled supervisor candidates, PG&E’s leadership saw a need for leadership development and job-related training, which also would help reduce turnover. It was clear a more business-focused onboarding solution was needed in addition to what currently was being provided to new supervisors. In response, PG&E Academy developed a strategic onboarding program for new supervisors that includes job-related and leadership development training.

Program Details

The new straetegic onboarding program consists of:

  • New Employee Orientation: A one-day program focused on providing benefits information, company history and values, forms completion, and welcoming all new employees.
  • Onboarding Toolkit: To help hiring managers successfully welcome, orient, and retain their new hires. The toolkit provides guidance for the first 90 days of onboarding.
  • New to Leadership at PG&E: New leaders learn the expectations of them as leaders, and how to demonstrate and support PG&E’s vision, values, and competencies. This seven-day program includes the development of management skills and the coaching and communication skills necessary for positive employee development.
  • New Supervisor Onboarding Program: An 8-week program that provides on-the-job learning, job shadowing, and network building with a coach as a mentor/guide.

PG&E launched the New Supervisor Onboarding Program to four functional groups, with 15 more scheduled to be launched in 2017 and 2018. To date, 44 participants have completed the New Supervisor Onboarding Program, with 38 supervisors still in their role.

This strategic onboarding program supports PG&E’s 2018-2022 organizational goals in these areas:

  • Safety: This program provides proper safety training on reducing hazards, serious injuries, and fatalities. Additionally, leaders learn about PG&E’s Speak-Up Culture and how to support cyber security, physical security (including what to do if faced with workplace violence), and its Corrective Action Program. Without it, supervisors cannot keep customers, employees, and themselves safe.
  • Affordability: This program supports reducing the cost of supervisor turnover. Given 38 out of the 44 participants who completed the New Supervisor Onboarding Program are still in their role, PG&E was able to limit the cost of rehiring in these positions.
  • Lead, Engage and Develop PG&E’s Workforce: This strategic onboarding program is part of the larger leadership and employee development portfolio, known as “Leading Forward,” which includes onboarding, career development, and leader development.


  • The Engagement Index, measuring employee engagement, increased 3 percent from 2014 to 2016.
  • For 2016, PG&E was 8 percent above the U.S. High-Performing Benchmark and 12 percent above the U.S. Utilities Plus Benchmark for employee engagement. The U.S. High-Performing Benchmark includes companies from Forbes’ “Most Admired” and “Best Companies to Work for” surveys. The U.S. Utilities Plus Benchmark includes utility and natural resource companies.
  • The Development Index reflects PG&E is 7 percent above the U.S. High-Performing Benchmark and 10 percent above the U.S. Utilities Plus Benchmark. This index measures employees’ perception of the opportunities provided by PG&E to improve and utilize skills and abilities.
  • The Recruiting Effectiveness Dashboard for second quarter 2017 showed a 20 percent decrease in the gap between the hiring manager’s overall onboarding effectiveness score and the new hire’s overall onboarding experience score. This shows the onboarding is helping new hires understand the role and expectations of their position in a more timely manner.
  • For the New to Leadership at PG&E program, from its inception (in 2015), the return on investment for the program has been $8.24 for every $1 spent on training. PG&E receives a payback on this investment within a period of 1.46 months.

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