Our Team

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Our Team

Working together to create a Great Workplace 

Our people are truly our greatest strength and our success is intrinsically linked to our ability to create a high performing and respectful culture. We are committed to enabling a safe, supportive and inclusive work environment at Black Hills Energy – a workplace culture built on shared values and mutual respect. This commitment to culture starts with the “tone at the top” and is demonstrated by officers and leaders who are open and accessible and dedicated to fostering a sense of team across an expansive employee base. It’s been a long-held tradition at Black Hills for leaders to hold face-to-face, open meetings with employees to hear what’s on their minds. That’s why each year, during the fourth quarter, our senior leaders take to the road and visit every office location in our service territory. It’s a tradition that goes a long way to building trust and deepening partnerships.

Our Workforce – by the numbers

  • 2,800 - employees (as of Dec. 31, 2017)
    • 99.7 percent full-time
    • 0.3 percent part-time
  • 26.3 percent – gender diversity
    • ?36 percent – women in executive leadership positions
  • 11.4 percent – ethnic diversity
  • 26 percent - covered by collective bargaining agreements
  • 11.8 years – average tenure
  • 7.9 percent – employee turnover rate (voluntary/involuntary terminations)
  • ?4.8 percent –retirements
state Number of employees (rounded) percent of total (rounded)
Arkansas 390 14%
Colorado 470 17%
Iowa 170 6%
Kansas 140 5%
Nebraska 480 17%
South Dakota 680 25%
Wyoming 430 15%
Remote Workers 40 1%
TOTAL 2,800 100%

Employee Safety – “We commit to live and work safely every day”

Safety is one of our company values and a top priority in all we do. Our work practices, policies and programs are aimed at creating a safer and healthier environment for all employees. We work to create an open, respectful environment where employees learn from each other and hold each other accountable for working safely. We live our value of safety every day, and at all levels of our company through:

  • “Safety Shares” – every meeting at Black Hills Energy begins with a safety tip, a near-miss experience or a personal story about safety. This practice fosters trust among teams, encourages best practices, and supports our learning culture.
  • Pre-job briefings and job hazard analysis – at the start of every project our employees review job requirements, analyze potential hazards, and discuss safety procedures.
  • Stop Work Authority – every employee and contractor working on behalf of the company has the authority to stop work in progress if something doesn’t seem safe.
  • Safety training – every employee is required to complete annual safety training and skills-based training customized to job function. Training is provided on such topics as safe driving practices, injury prevention, first aid, and workplace ergonomics, among others.

Since 2010, we have improved our safety performance by 72 percent and we continue to see long-term, sustained improvements in our safety practices and performance.

  • Total Case Incident Rate (incidents per 200,000 hours worked)
    • 2017 – 1.2
    • 2016 – 1.7
    • Industry average – 2.2
  • Preventable Motor Vehicle Incident Rate (vehicle accidents per 1 million miles driven)
    • 2017 – 2.0
    • 2016 – 2.75
    • Industry average – 2.3
  • Proactive safety and wellness goal*
    • 2017 – 90 percent of all employees participated in programs and activities to promote personal health, wellness and safety at work and at home.

*Introduced in 2017

Equal Employment Opportunity and Non-discrimination policies

We believe our unique talents and diversity anchor a culture of success. We foster an environment that respects all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, creed, disability, age, veteran status, or any other protected class.

Harassment-free workplace

We are committed to a work environment that is free from all forms of harassment – including sexual harassment and bullying. Regardless of the form it may take, harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. This applies to all employees, applicants, vendors, contractors, clients and customers of the company. Our Harassment Prevention Policy has been in place since 2010, and violations of this policy will be handled in accordance with the company’s disciplinary policies and procedures up to and including termination. View our Harassment Prevention Policy here.

Total Rewards for Employees

We offer our employees a Total Rewards package that reflects our company values and recognizes their contributions to our business. We provide market-competitive pay* and comprehensive benefits to help our employees take care of the things that are important to them and their families.

*Bargaining-unit employees are compensated according to union contracts.

Health and Well-being

  • Medical, dental and vision plans for employees and dependents
  • Flexible spending accounts for health care and dependent care
  • Company-paid basic life and accident insurance
  • Voluntary supplemental life and accident insurance
  • Company-paid disability insurance
  • Voluntary long-term care insurance
  • Employee assistance work/life program
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Tobacco-free workplace


  • Paid Time Off and company-paid holidays
  • Parental leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Educational Assistance program
  • Energy for Life wellness programs
    • Onsite biometric screenings and flu shots
    • Tobacco cessation program
    • 2018 roll-out of Virgin Pulse, an employee well-being program to encourage wellness activities to sustain a healthy lifestyle by providing daily engagement tools and personalized program recommendations.

Retirement Planning

We offer retirement savings plans to help our employees meet their long-term financial goals. 401(k) and Roth 401(k) Retirement Savings Plans – eligible employees receive a company match of 100 percent of the first 6 percent of eligible compensation. Employees also receive a company retirement contribution each pay period, up to 9 percent of total eligible pay. This contribution is based upon employee age plus years of service.

Defined Benefit Plan Obligations

Black Hills’ defined benefit plan is funded through an external trust. Assets in the trust are held exclusively for the payment of employees’ pension benefits and cannot be used for any other purpose.

  • Pension plan: Our qualified pension plan is non-contributory, meaning the company covers the full cost of the benefit. We had multiple pension plans that were merged into one plan; however, the plan preserves the benefit formulas and eligibility requirements for the various employee populations. The plan is closed to all new entrants. Approximately 43 percent of our employee population has a pension benefit.
  • 401(k) retirement plan: Our qualified 401(k) plan is offered to all employees and approximately 90 percent of our employees contribute to the 401(k) plan.
  • Retiree health: Eligible employees are offered retiree medical options. A Retiree Medical Savings Account is established for employees which provides credits that can be used to help offset the cost of a company-sponsored retiree medical plan.

Building a high performing culture

Our success depends upon employees experiencing challenging and rewarding careers in a safe and diverse workplace. That’s why we have a strong belief in promoting talent from within as this benefits both employees and the company as a whole. We support our employees through comprehensive training programs for personal and professional development and make these programs available through our online learning management system and through in-person training sessions. Many of our programs are focused on leadership development and include:

  • Leading People Program – a comprehensive leadership development program for all managers
  • Field Career Path Program – a new program launched in 2018 to promote career growth through established standards of knowledge, skills, abilities and performance. Applies to gas operations field employees not governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • ASPIRE – a corporate-wide strategic initiative to identify, recruit and develop women.
    • The guiding principles of ASPIRE are:
      • A – Advocate for the advancement of qualified women
      • S – Support high-potential women through sponsorship, mentoring and education activities
      • P – Promote awareness of the business benefits of gender diversity
      • I – Include all people
      • R – Recognize and take action to meet the strategic needs of Black Hills
      • E – Evolve the culture and drive value for Black Hills

Performance Excellence

At Black Hills, performance excellence is a collaborative effort between managers and employees to ensure that everyone is directly engaged in making the company Better Every Day, one of our strategic priorities. Although there is a formal process that incorporates goal-setting and mid-year and year-end check points, the spirit of performance excellence is to encourage a constant conversation between managers and employees on ways to maximize performance throughout the year.

  • Goal-setting – everyone contributes to the success of our company, so employees’ individual goals and performance are directly tied to the broader, strategic goals of the company.
  • Values in Action – in addition to “what” is achieved throughout the year, both managers and employees are also assessed on “how” they obtain those results relative to our corporate values using a set of competencies we call “Values in Action.”
  • Management Practices - to support leadership development at Black Hills, managers are assessed on their performance leading people using a set of competencies we call “Management Practices.”
  • Career development - as part of our annual performance management process, employees and their managers discuss not only ways for the employee to improve in their current role, but also how the employee can grow and develop for future roles.

Pay for Performance

We believe in rewarding and recognizing employees’ performance and contributions to the company. Therefore, a portion of employees’ overall compensation is not guaranteed, but tied to the achievement of critical goals at the corporate and individual business unit levels. By providing annual incentive pay, each employee has the opportunity to be rewarded for their individual accomplishments, achievement of goals, and behavior that demonstrates the company’s values.

Employee Recognition

At Black Hills, we believe in the power of “thank you.” Our employee recognition programs let employees know their work is valued and appreciated.

  • Chairman’s Award – the highest form of recognition at Black Hills Energy. The Chairman’s Award recognizes employees and teams who exemplify our vision, mission and values. Through a peer and manager nomination process, the Chairman’s Award supports the development of a culture that recognizes performance, reinforces company values and standards, and promotes teamwork.
  • Energize! – we encourage our employees to express appreciation to their fellow employees through our Random Acts of Energy awards and Peer Energy awards program. Our peer recognition program is administered through an online platform called Energize!, and is available to all employees as a means of reinforcing our culture of collaboration and teamwork.

Employee Engagement

We work with great intention to support a respectful and collaborative culture at Black Hills because we believe we all have a hand in making our company a great place to work. Inviting employees to share their ideas, opinions and concerns in an open and honest manner is essential to this effort. As a result, every two years, we ask employees to provide feedback through a confidential online survey to gauge their views about key indicators of employee engagement including: employees’ pride in the organization, optimism for the future, and their willingness to give high levels of energy to achieve company goals. For the past 10 years, Black Hills has achieved industry-leading employee engagement levels.

2017 Speak UP! survey results

In 2017, 86 percent of employees participated in the Speak UP! Survey, up two percentage points from the previous survey. Overall, Black Hills is above the U.S. norm for engagement, above the high-performing company comparison, and well above the utilities norm. It is clear that safety is, and will continue to be, a top priority at Black Hills. The top five highest rated survey questions were from the safety practices and safety climate categories.

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Better Every Day

One of our strategic priorities is Better Every Day, a mindset that defines our culture of continuous improvement. Each day employees are empowered to find ways to work more efficiently and more effectively to serve our customers.

Evolution for Success

As a result of multiple utility acquisitions over the past decade, Black Hills is, today, the culmination of many other companies. Although we’ve successfully integrated all software systems, branding, employee compensation and benefits and numerous other items, in many respects, each of these companies retained their own way of doing things. In 2017, we launched a continuous improvement initiative called Evolution for Success to transform our business, largely through standardization, to better and more efficiently serve our customers. By identifying efficiencies, applying consistent and simplified processes, and optimizing our shared systems and technologies, we are providing increased value to customers and shareholders alike.

Horizon Point: Building for the future

In November 2017, we moved into Horizon Point, our new corporate headquarters building in Rapid City, South Dakota. This project was the culmination of a multi-year effort to consolidate central functions in Rapid City and bring most of our corporate service employees together under one roof to more efficiently serve all of our 1.25 million customers across eight states. Since 2005, our utility customer count has grown nearly 20-fold and our again facilities were no longer sufficient to meet our space requirements nor conducive to productivity and efficiency. We are proud of Horizon Point and all that it stands for – a dynamic and highly efficient environment where we can work collaboratively to create value for our customers, communities and shareholders.

Horizon Point - at a glance:
  • Environmental leadership
    • Designed to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency.
    • More than 200 geothermal wells, 400 feet deep, supplement our heating and cooling systems and provide on-site renewable energy.
    • Smart lighting is controlled with sensors and timing devices to operate when spaces are occupied.
    • Electric vehicle charging stations available for employees, visitors and fleet electric vehicles.
    • Reclaimed storm water system to reduce water consumption needs for landscaping irrigation.
  • Work-life integration
    • Health and wellness-based design with ergonomic work stations and natural lighting
    • On-site employee services specifically sourced with local non-profit organizations in our service area:
      • Wellness Center, for use by employees and their spouses, managed by the YMCA of Rapid City. Opening in 2018
      • Child Care Center, for infants up to five years of age, managed by the YMCA of Rapid City. Opening in 2018
      • Café managed by Black Hills Works, a non-profit organization providing quality, person-centered services and support to adults with disabilities.