Take This Job & Love It! Retaining Oil and Gas Millennials

retaining oil and gas millennials

Take This Job & Love It! Retaining Oil and Gas Millennials

There is no doubt about it – in order for the oil and gas industry to meet the growing demand for energy, they need to formulate effective strategies to attract and engage the industry’s newest resource: Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1980 to early 2000). You may well ask why.  If you’ve been working in upstream oil and gas for over 20 years, chances are you will be looking to retire in the not-too-distant future. This is exactly what corporate leaders in the oil and gas sector have been concerned about for the past decade or so – the pool of talent with all the requisite skills is diminishing, due in most cases to natural attrition and in some cases from incentives to jump ship to other employers.

Although many jobs in the oil and gas sector are highly technical and require skills and experience that are unable to be filled by ordinary means, the industry is looking to replenish their dwindling talent pool by attracting millennials.  Oil and gas employees are responsible for making big decisions that have huge financial consequences — one wrong decision might cost a company millions in a single day. For this reason, upstream oil and gas must ensure that the millennials who are potential employees are engaged, sufficiently trained and able to make autonomous decisions.

How did we get here?    

The current lack of sufficient employees in the oil and gas sector wasn’t helped by the industry’s hibernation for most of the 1980s and 1990s. During those two decades hiring in the industry ground to a halt, and as a natural result universities and colleges dropped petroleum programs from their calendars. Fast-forward 30 years and the demand for energy is at an all-time high.  Universities and colleges have appropriately shifted gears and are producing new graduates that are recruited on-campus.  Oil and gas industry CEOs are acutely aware of the evaporating pool of talent with specialized skills that keep their respective organizations competitive.  There’s only one problem – new hires lack the experience that will ensure they make sound decisions. Employers are also concerned that once a new employee has gained adequate experience they may be persuaded to take a job offer from one of their competitors.

Retention Strategies

As with most recruitment campaigns, a good strategy begins with capturing the hearts and minds of the people you wish to attract.  How is this done with millennials? For one thing, employers need a change of organizational mindset to embrace the notion that millennials are looking to complement their lifestyle with their job instead of the other way around.  For example, if you’re looking to populate work camps for an extended period, the millennials’ quality of life is paramount.

Work/Life Integration

What do millennials want?  In studies such as the PwC 14th Annual CEO Survey, the findings show that millennials value work/life integration more than the conventional balancing act of job and the rest of your time. This is what a laundry list of millennial requirements might look like:

  • Premium accommodations at Work Camp sites instead of requiring workers to find local hotels, motels and trailer parks;
  • Emphasis on healthy eating by providing in-house nutrition specialists and premium dining facilities;
  • Adequate sleep by bringing in experts to facilitate a good night’s sleep for the high-risk jobs of rig workers;
  • Exercise facilities and Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • Encouraging open social networks without the need to monitor usage;
  • Mentorship programs that bring millennials and leaders together.

Next Steps

All of these steps sound expensive to implement, but when you consider that the cost of replacing an experienced professional or technical resource is approximately one-and-one-half times their annual salary, the issue takes on a much clearer perspective.  Remember that the specific skills required in the oil and gas industry don’t allow for seamless transferring-in from other industry sectors, no matter how similar.

In short, with the impending loss of institutional knowledge there is an urgent need for companies in the upstream oil and gas industry to update their approach to recruiting, developing, deploying and connecting their people.