As the number of millennials continues to increase in the oil and gas industry, finding and implementing a strategy not only to hire but also to retain these employees will be paramount to success.
Since the 2014 collapse in oil prices, oil and gas companies have had to reduce their headcount to lower costs, while continuing to build their talent pipeline for the future.
As a result, according to Rachel Everaard, US Oil and Gas People Advisory Services Principal at Ernst & Young LLP, the number of people employed in oil and gas extraction over the age of 45 fell by 19 percent between 2012 and 2017, while employees between 25 and 34 — often classified as millennials — were the only age group to grow.
With this rapid change, oil and gas companies face a new challenge, says Everaard: managing and retaining an influx of younger workers.
It’s no surprise that personal differences — age, gender, ethnicity and background — can all play a role in creating different expectations of employers. Some of these key differentiators include how employees view company engagement, training and experiences, workspace, culture and even benefits.
Younger employees often have a greater appreciation for schedule flexibility, they want a work-life balance, diversity of experiences such as opportunities for foreign assignments or cutting-edge projects, and non-monetary rewards such as enhanced training and development. Younger employees have also come to expect technologically advanced, interactive workspaces that enable collaboration with peers.
Knowing this, how are oil and gas companies adapting to the younger workforce? Writing in the San Antonio Express-News, Everaard cites a survey conducted last year in which most oil and gas executives favoured 'tactics' such as college campus recruitment events and social media initiatives over 'strategies'. However, as oil prices stabilize, companies are increasingly evaluating more holistic solutions.
According to a survey conducted by The Cashlorette, people 18 to 36 years old are far more comfortable discussing their salaries with coworkers, friends, and family than workers in older generations. The survey found 30 percent of millennials feel comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers compared to just eight percent of those aged 53 to 71. Employers have taken notice. As workforces have started to skew younger, a growing number of companies are deciding to make their pay transparent to all employees.
Smart companies are also developing customized benefits programs that allow employees to choose the rewards most meaningful to them, and many are also increasingly asking employees for feedback on what matters most, says Everaard.
Some companies are leveraging their office space to create value for current and prospective employees. Typically, this includes creating inspirational spaces that drive collaboration and innovation, and locating offices near key talent pools and attractive amenities.
The gender gap will also be an important hurdle for oil and gas companies to address. Today, more US women earn bachelor’s degrees than men, yet at the end of 2017 women accounted for just 17 percent of people employed in oil and gas extraction or support activities. Further, a survey last year found only 24 percent of women aged between 16 and 35 find jobs in the industry appealing.
As the number of millennials continues to increase in the oil and gas industry, with Generation Z following shortly behind, finding and implementing a strategy not only to hire but also to retain these employees will be paramount to success, says Everaard.