Supporting the energy sector during ‘The great resignation’

Since the pandemic, a record number of employees are quitting their jobs or thinking about it. This will impact the energy sector in the coming years. RPS can support you through ‘The great resignation’ .

What is the great resignation?

The term ‘The Great Resignation’ was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School. Since the pandemic, a record number of employees are quitting their jobs or thinking about it. In the US, 4.4 million people left their jobs in September. In the UK, job vacancies are at a record high. One recent US survey reported that 73% of employees say they are thinking about quitting right now.

But why?

In part, it may be that people sought the security of remaining with their current employer during the pandemic, and there is some pent-up demand now that things are stabilising somewhat.

Another reason is that people have had time to reflect on their work-life balance, having been able to spend more time with their families, and are therefore seeking more flexible or meaningful employment opportunities.

Work life balance.

What does it mean for companies in the energy sector?

Most companies are facing a higher voluntary turnover than pre-pandemic. This fact is especially true of employees who are between 30 and 45. A reduced workforce of experienced professionals can put project delivery at risk. The pressure is even greater for renewable projects as there are so few people with experience in this part of the energy sector.

As a result, projects can be delayed by not having enough qualified personnel to keep the project on track. Inexperience also increases the risk that small details may be overlooked and mistakes made. Junior staff may be ill-equipped, both technically and strategically, to handle the challenges of their new position when placed in critical decision-making roles too soon. Delays in project approval, sub-optimal well placement, and an increase in health, safety or environmental risk are just a few of the factors that can cause project costs to explode or, in the worst case, project closures.

What can be done about it?

Don’t keep it all in-house

Making sure you have the right expertise to deliver an energy project is paramount to its success. Fortunately, this expertise doesn’t always have to come from inside your own organisation. A consultancy, like RPS, can provide people through secondments and short-term assignments with the expertise needed, for a day, a week or a month. In addition, these advisors can review work, mentor junior staff and deliver solutions to project challenges using their years of relevant technical and geographic experience. The advice from a neutral third-party provides confidence in decision-making as risk from limited experience is mitigated.

Keep your best people – career development is important

During the past two years, training budgets in oil and gas companies have generally been reduced to save costs. However, highly motivated staff are often lifelong learners, and they want to develop their skills. In a survey of over 16,000 energy professionals by Airswift, 41% of oil and gas respondents say they are looking for increased training and mentorship. Still, only 29% reported an increase in training from their employers. A robust and individualised training plan shows employees they are valued, and companies are invested in their career progression. An external provider, such as RPS and our learning and development team, can assess employee competency levels and develop training plans that match both the needs of the organisation and the employee.

Be flexible when possible

A more flexible approach to when and where work occurs can encourage new employees to join and current employees to stay. A 2021 survey from Ernst and Young found that more than half (54%) of employees surveyed would consider leaving their jobs if they are not afforded some sort of flexibility in their work. For example, one trend in the energy industry that took off rapidly during the pandemic was the transition to remote work . But in some fields of work this isn’t always possible, however, at RPS, we’ve been pushing the envelope and encouraging the use of remote monitoring in various disciplines. For example, during an offshore geotechnical testing and soil sampling survey, RPS performed quality assurance monitoring remotely, which kept this offshore wind project on track. Reducing the amount of time an employee is offshore or in a remote location can facilitate a better work-life balance. In addition, remote work can decrease the health, safety and environmental risk on projects by reducing the number of people required in the field.

Get new employees up to speed quickly

When new employees are hired, getting them up and running at pace can be a challenging task. Current employees are often too busy or not experienced enough to train new employees who want to contribute as soon as possible. Digital learning can speed up the onboarding process through effectively designed training programs that allow employees to onboard through on-demand training. Because RPS training is designed in collaboration with the organisation, it can incorporate its best practices, workflows, and the latest information. And it can link to other learning and development programs to track employee competencies and certification throughout their career.

Make work meaningful

Many potential energy sector employees are hesitant to work for or remain working for oil and gas companies. In the same Airswift survey of over 16,000 energy professionals, 79% of oil and gas respondents said they would consider switching to another sector in the next three years, with the transition to renewables being the most popular step. Skills in areas such as geoscience, engineering, chemistry and reservoir modelling are needed in both oil and gas but also geothermal, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. Fostering an environment where employees can work on various types of energy projects may require additional training but can also be key to recruiting and retaining new employees in an increasingly constrained resource talent pool.

Stronger together

We know that having the right people with the right expertise will challenge the energy sector as we progress through ‘the great resignation’. At RPS, our team of energy consultants can support a wide variety of projects through secondments and special assignments and keep projects moving forward. Through learning and development, RPS can deliver a wide variety of learning opportunities that promote career development, rapid onboarding and retention.

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