The global transition towards clean energy and the growing importance of the renewables sector, including solar power and offshore wind, will continue to generate demand for highly skilled workers. Transferable skills from complementary sectors such as oil and gas will be pivotal in helping to plug the skill shortages and resolve some of the hiring challenges facing energy companies. But attracting the right talent is only one part of the hiring equation – how do organisations go about retaining their top talent and stop them joining the competition?
Addressing energy skills shortages
Clearly, there are a number of things that energy sector employers can do to secure the best people. The Brunel and Oilandgasjobsearch.com Energy Outlook 2021/22 report revealed that while salary remains the most important factor for jobseekers when considering a new role, there are other key elements that come into play, notably career opportunities, job security and work-life balance. Therefore oil and gas organisations looking to attract top Millennials and Gen Z ‘zoomers’ must focus on areas such as training and development while offering flexible work arrangements (which includes being fluid with both location and hours).
The research also showed that jobseekers place great importance on workplace culture and the corporate environment. They want to work for companies that share their values and those that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials will find they stand out better from the crowd. Job seekers also want to be trained on health and safety with some also mentioning opportunities for travel. Critically, they cited salaries, lack of benefits and personal lifestyle changes as the key reasons that would make them leave the energy industry.
The other central pillar of any talent strategy – one of the hardest to get right and improve – is retention. Often organisations may deploy a combination of ‘buying’ and ‘building’ talent, in other words hiring externally versus developing from within. While bringing in talent from outside has its advantages, focusing on internal people who know the organisation also has its merits – training, upskilling and redeploying your current workforce will not only help fill those skills gaps, it will also foster greater loyalty as employees feel that the company cares about their careers.
Energy and oil & gas companies must also seek to conduct regular employee surveys to find out what they can improve on – listening first and then implementing action plans. They will also benefit from offering training to managers, considering mentoring programmes and creating a culture where everyone’s opinion matters and where feedback is actively encouraged. In light of the toll of the pandemic on people’s physical and mental health, there are no excuses for not making worker wellbeing a top priority and this has been proven to achieve improved retention rates.
Attracting and retaining top energy talent and skills
Shockingly, at a time when 40% of energy workers were laid off according to the same report (the Middle East, Africa and Asia being the most affected regions) almost six in 10 (59%) said that they received no form of support during this most difficult of times, an increase of 15% on the previous year. Those who were helped cited ‘financial support’ (13%), ‘referrals to other employers’ (12%), ‘time off’ (11%), ‘careers advice/counselling’ (9%) and being ‘connected to a recruitment firm’ (9%).
Quite apart from having an advantage when it comes to re-hiring those same workers, how employees are treated by their employer is clearly of the utmost importance, particularly during tough times. If handled with care and compassion, redundancies can have a positive impact not only on exiting employees but crucially those who remain. These individuals will be more inclined to leave if they see their friends and colleagues treated poorly. Word can spread quickly and as we have seen in the media, one wrong move and a company’s reputation can be torn to shreds.
Whether opting to bring in talent from outside or upskill your existing workforce, organisations must endeavour to provide an environment that fosters inclusion, innovation, collaboration and wellbeing. Energy organisations must provide a place where individuals have an equal opportunity to progress and whose leaders live the corporate values. Given that hiring can be very costly and time-consuming, the above will therefore help organisations mitigate the risks of losing talent and knowledge.
Quite simply, organisations in the energy sector who invest in their people will increase retention as existing workers will be more likely to stay longer term. The stories of happy employees who have developed their careers will reflect well on the employer brand, cementing a reputation as a progressive people-centric organisation. In turn, more potential new recruits will want to experience those same career journeys, helping energy companies attract the talent to combat those skill shortages.
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