As a whole, the energy industry appears to be on the rebound after a tough couple of years driven by pandemic-era consumption changes and other challenges. Today’s energy workforce is different than the one just a few years ago, however, with new concerns and a passion for making a positive impact on the world.
The Outlook for the Energy Industry
According to the U.S Department of Energy, growth continues in the industry, even outpacing the overall employment rate at some points. In 2021, U.S. energy sector jobs grew 4.0% from 2020, compared to an overall employment increase of 2.8% in the same time period. That accounted for more than 300,000 jobs, increasing from 7.5 million total energy jobs in 2020 to more than 7.8 million in 2021.
Not all energy jobs are created equal, however. Despite an overall increase in jobs, several industries — fossil fuels in particular — saw some declines. Petroleum saw the biggest losses in raw numbers, decreasing by 31,593 jobs (-6.4%). Coal fuel jobs, meanwhile, saw the greatest percentage decline, losing 7,125 jobs (-11.8%. Fuel extraction jobs overall decreased by 12%. Biofuels, on the other hand, saw a significant spike, adding 1,180 for an increase of 6.7%.
In searching for talent to move the sector forward, energy companies are broadening their horizons – and for good reason. More companies are incorporating DEI practices, and workforces are becoming more diverse. According to one study, the number of women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities is rising, and the overall age of the energy workforce is getting lower. This diversity not only shows a commitment to positive change, but also strengthens the workforce, opens up new avenues of innovation, and demonstrates commitment to bringing prosperity to the regions where the companies operate. Along with these “traditional,” demographic-based aspects of diversity, it’s important for companies to consider diversity of thought and diversity of training. To build success far into the future, companies must ensure that their talent pipeline includes people with a wide variety of skills and with the abilities necessary to pair mechanical skill with high-tech know-how.
In Search of a Sense of Purpose
Today’s talent isn’t just looking for higher salaries and benefits (though that does play a part) – they’re looking for ways to have an impact on the world. The energy industry has a complicated image for much of the general public. There are still many people who are interested in joining the industry, but many of them are looking to play a role in building a greener and more optimistic outlook for the industry and for the world at large.
Along with a compelling employee value proposition, companies looking to draw in new talent will have to consider several factors that are on job candidates’ minds. One recent report shared a number of key statistics worth keeping in mind:
- 40% of energy workers say rising inflation is driving them to look for new employment, while 26% cite sustainable development/climate change, and 24% cite the reputation of the industry.
- 91% of energy workers are concerned about climate change.
- The top reasons why energy workers are thinking of leaving the industry altogether are: low salary (33%), a lack of good benefits (29%), personal lifestyle changes (28%), a lack of personal development opportunities (22%), and a negative management style (22%).
- When asked what factors would attract them to a new role, the top answer, with 70% of respondents, was salary, followed by career opportunities (53%), job security (53%), workplace culture/environment (45%), and training/development (42%).
The “Plus One” Factor
According to research from Gallup, workers who have “quiet quit” or semi-disengaged are very clear about the things that would make them re-engage. These insights can be incredibly valuable in any workforce because engagement is key to retention – and it’s also what might tempt employees to consider moving to your company. 41% of Gallup’s respondents cited engagement and cultural issues (including recognition, manager relationships, promotional opportunities, autonomy, and clear goals), while 28% focus on pay and benefit-related issues (including pay increases, transportation and child care, and rewards), and 16% are most concerned with well-being (including hybrid and WFH, longer breaks, spaces to relax, and overall concern for employee well-being).
At Extract Talent, we like to think of these as “Plus Ones,” or items that might not be the sole determining factor in a job offer, but will definitely make a difference. Candidates are looking for personal and professional development, such as wellness training, leadership training, “lunch and learn” opportunities, and upskilling to meet the demands of a changing industry. They’re also looking at the “human” side of things – in other words, a healthy connection with colleagues and, even more importantly, with managers. That requires leaders to focus on core values like positivity, inspiration, acknowledgement of achievements, clear communication, constructive and honest feedback, approachability, and accessibility.
The energy industry is one of the fastest-changing niches today, and its workforce is changing right along with it. In order to meet these needs, companies must focus on what employees really want: the chance to make a difference for the world while building careers for themselves. With the right understanding of core concerns and a strategy that addresses them effectively, energy companies can build a talent network that can flex and evolve with anything the future brings.