January 2015: Biggest Challenges Facing Employment in the Downstream Energy Industry for 2015

I was recently interviewed by one of the nation’s leading energy magazines and asked my thoughts about the biggest challenges facing the downstream industry in terms of employment for 2015.  My answer was echoed in this article by Dorothy Davis Ballard Entitled “Your New Year’s Resolution: Bring Millennials into the Energy Fold” that appeared in PennEnergy recently.  We are facing a shortage of virtually epidemic proportions of talented experienced downstream technical professionals.  I submit that what Ms Ballard proposes is only part of the solution.  I look forward to dialoguing with you throughout the year about this very challenging topic.  If you’d like to read the article in its entirety please check it out at: http://www.pennenergy.com/index/blogs/all-energy-all-the-time/2014/12/your-new-years-resol.html?cmpid=EnlWeeklyPetroJanuary22015 – C>


As the world prepares to welcome 2015, many energy firms are preparing to see more of their workforce retire. Everyone from the top down is talking about the large numbers of experienced and knowledgeable employees set to retire, but what are we doing about it? Who will fill their shoes? Energy companies, including utilities, oil and gas firms and renewable energy businesses, need to make their New Year’s resolution a simple, but important one: Successfully recruit, develop and retain talent from the youngest generation in the industry – millennials.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are the demographic group generally categorized as having been born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.  It is estimated there are some 80 million millennials in the U.S. alone. This means millennials represent a larger and more diverse group than Baby Boomers, one of the most populous and impactive generations in the last century. For energy to continue to thrive, the industry must learn how to successfully draw its future leaders from the massive millennial pool.

Face the challenges head on – It’s become a universal truth that energy companies have to overcome initial recruitment hurdles when shifting their focus to Generation Y. Members of the millennial generation have lived through a severe economic recession in the U.S., and have witnessed world crises through a screen in the palm of their hand. This upbringing means many millennials are more environmentally conscious and wary of big business. They want to work for companies that understand the importance of social responsibility; therefore energy firms should promote sustainability initiatives and their essential role in powering the world more than their yearly revenue. To successfully recruit this generation, businesses need to build a brand millennials will be proud to work for.

Provide workers with purpose – Millennials are not interested in being another cog in a machine. It’s necessary for energy companies to provide this generation with a more steadfast purpose to their work. This doesn’t mean having a general mission statement. Instead, it means being able to answer the question of why that person’s position within the company is crucial to the success of the business. By giving millennials a reason for the importance of a position, energy companies are more likely to attract them to the industry, boost engagement and retain great performers.

Refocus the recruiting strategy – Pulling in top talent from this younger generation requires different strategies than when businesses recruited and hired new workers a decade ago. Millennials are the mobile generation, constantly connecting to professionals and businesses on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Energy companies interested in working with these young professionals are better off meeting them where millennials are most comfortable: in the digital arena. This can be challenging for energy companies who have a culture of recruitment built on the merits of a traditional “old boy network,” slick head hunters and business-to-business events. All of these still have a place, but building a unique and informative voice for your business on social media platforms will go a lot further in attracting the best recruits among millennials.

How the world views work is evolving rapidly. Millennials want to work for companies that understand careers are about more than salaries and vacation time – they’re about fulfilling purposes and making a difference. At its root, energy is about the same things. We just need to show them so we can extend an invitation they will answer.

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