Xcel Energy’s workforce is composed of more than 12,000 employees, all working to provide the safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy services that our customers depend on every day. We know that investing in the safety and development of our workforce increases the value we provide to our customers and communities. For the past four years, we’ve been on a Journey to Zero, with the goal of having zero injuries among all our employees. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that we take seriously. Setting our sights high has resulted in a 40 percent improvement in our safety performance over the past five years. In 2013, we had the fewest injuries in our history with a 10 percent drop from 2012. More than 75 percent of our workgroups achieved zero injuries.
Bargaining unit employees make up more than half of our workforce. A large number of these employees work in the field and at our power plants. They ensure our customers have power when they need it, and they work all hours, in all conditions to maintain day-to-day service, as well as restore service following storms and disasters. Developing and maintaining strong relations with our bargaining unit employees is a priority for us and essential to our operations. We’ve made excellent strides in the past few years to improve labor negotiations, achieving a successful first-vote ratification of a new agreement with Upper Midwest unions in 2013. This had not been accomplished in over a decade. In 2013, we began implementing a pre-hire assessment for select bargaining unit positions to help us identify candidates who share our corporate values and vision for becoming a more nimble and innovative company in addition to possessing the right technical skill set.
Over the next 10 years, approximately half of our current workforce will be eligible to retire. Understanding that not everyone eligible will immediately retire, we are anticipating an eventual transition of our workforce that will provide us with a number of challenges and opportunities. Clearly, the cumulative knowledge of our retiring employees is a valuable asset that we don’t want to lose, so we have a number of efforts underway to help long-time employees capture and share their expertise before they leave. We’re also making a strong investment in leadership programs to support current and aspiring leaders throughout the course of their careers at Xcel Energy.
Diversity and inclusion have always been a priority for Xcel Energy. As we hire new employees, we continue to focus on the diversity of our workforce. Additionally, we continue to provide opportunities to military veterans. Xcel Energy has been recognized as one of the most military-friendly employers, and veterans currently make up 10 percent of our workforce.
Employee engagement is a critical factor in maintaining a productive workforce and driving positive business results. According to our annual employee survey, a higher percentage of employees felt engaged with the company in 2013 than 2012. We believe this is in part due to the introduction of our strategic call to action to all employees in 2013, which aligns employees with a common set of goals and challenges them to think and act more like a competitive business by focusing on our customers more than ever.
As always, it’s important to offer the right compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain employees with the skills and values we need, while managing costs to stay competitive into the future. A large part of cost management comes from promoting a mindset of personal accountability when it comes to health and wellness choices, and we continue to offer programs that promote good choices. Also in 2013, we conducted extensive market reviews to shape our Total Rewards package to ensure it is aligned with the larger marketplace. This has helped us with our efforts to continue to provide employees with an attractive benefits package that is financially sustainable.