As the digital revolution continues and boomers in the energy sector prepare to retire, the race to stay ahead of your competitors in the war for talent has never been more heated. Where recruiting top talent is already seen as a challenge, utility companies can find themselves fighting against aerospace and telecom companies for engineers and programmers. In addition to knowledgeable workers, our nation is having a hard time producing the number of tradespeople needed.
The talent bench is dwindling. This is compounded by misperceptions of the industry, and the fact that the workers who are most ready and able to fill our talent bench and one day lead in our industry are the mysterious – we say misunderstood – millennials. They are a generation, along with the one behind them, that views oil and gas as behind the times and not leading-edge when it comes to technology.
Attracting and retaining millennial talent has been a challenge for many talent acquisition leaders across industries. To help with this, we are going to answer a few questions. Who are millennials? What are they looking for? What can you do to attract them? What can you do to retain them?
WHO ARE MILLENNIALS?
As of 2020, according to the Pew Research Center millennials include anyone from 24-39 years of age. Many people assume they are college-age students, and that just isn’t true. Long story short, they are already in the workforce; some are married, and some have children.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ATTRACT THEM?
Take the time to understand what millennials are really looking for and see where there is a match between their wants and what your company has to offer – then communicate the heck out of it. Our research shows they are looking for fast-paced workplaces that are collaborative, industry disruptors, people-centered and stable. So, it’s not just about changing your culture – it’s more of a yes, and … But start with making the best of what you have..
Establish a Strong Employer Brand
The one thing you can do to fight industry perceptions and set yourself up for success is to establish a strong employer brand. An employer brand is your company’s promise to its employees. Why would someone want to work there, assuming salary and benefits can be matched by any of your competitors? Your employer brand speaks to your candidates in their voice (even in the words they use) and shines a light on the things you have to offer that align with what they are looking for (e.g. fast-paced, innovation, etc., as referenced above.) This is your chance to show candidates that you aren’t the energy company of the past and to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
Get Online and Social
The first thing anyone does to learn more about a person, place or thing is a quick Google search. Your candidates, for sure passive candidates, are doing this before they respond to your email or call you back. Do you have an online presence? If so, are you putting your best foot forward and telling a compelling story? If you’re unsure of where your offering compares to your competitors, take a look at some of your competitor’s career websites and identify the gaps.
The next place they will look is social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram) to learn more about your company, see what you’re doing, and read what people are saying. This is a great way to use your authentic voice to share the projects you are working on and to showcase your people. Right now is a great example. While many Americans are sheltering in place due to COVID-19, the energy industry is a life-sustaining industry. Show your people out there on the front lines, literally keeping things running, fueling communities and hospitals; and tell their stories in your employee’s words. Talk about new tech and how it’s helping and about partnerships with government entities. That is what is going to connect. If millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, there is probably nothing more meaningful right now, and nothing more American, than to fight together in this crisis.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO RETAIN THEM?
Select Employees Whose Values Align with Your Own
And now we get to the idea of “stickiness.” What keeps their feet planted in your organization. We all know the cost of replacing a person is high, and it’s known that millennials don’t always stay long. Sure, some millennials hop around for pay, but the vast majority of the millennials we’ve interviewed, or that participated in our focus groups, are looking for companies whose values align with their own, and who are trying to solve the problems they are interested in solving. So, if you’re honest about your values, you will attract people who believe what you believe, which is exactly what we want.
Have a Killer Onboarding Process
Twenty-eight percent of people quit their jobs within the first 90 days. The reason many people leave organizations in the first 90 days, outside of the job not being what you told them, is that most organizations do a poor job of onboarding new employees. Many organizations focus on and spend money on courting candidates and writing checks their company culture and orientation can’t cash. A structured, consistent onboarding experience is key to making your new hire feel welcomed, and it shows them the stickiness that exists in your organization.
The key to attracting and retaining talent is clarity about the candidate you’re going after, understanding their needs, speaking honestly about how you can meet those needs, welcoming them into your organization and creating a space that lets them do their best work every day.
About the author: Dr. Harold Hardaway is a speaker and thought leader on corporate communications and culture. He believes everyone should “Chase the Good,” and he centers his work on helping organizations create spaces where that’s possible. He was previously the Director of Corporate Communications and Culture for H-E-B, and today, he serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Cardigan where he oversees research and strategy for all client projects.
About the author: Shannon is a gifted communication and marketing strategist who has made a name for herself creating game-changing communication and health and wellness initiatives that facilitate organizational and personal growth for some of Texas’ most beloved brands. Today, she serves as Chief Creative Officer for Cardigan and oversees creative and video production for all client initiatives. She also puts her passion for health to work as a Certified Health Coach, leading up the development of Health & Wellness Programming.