Digitization is the buzzword on everyone's lips in the oil and gas sector (the digitization in oil and gas). It is seen as the remedy for all the industry's problems of operational efficiency, security and lack of visibility. But it's also being heralded as a solution to the industry's constant struggle to recruit the young, tech-savvy workers they need. It promises to radically transform how the oil and gas workforce operates. But most companies are still confused about how to separate reality from hype (advertising campaign).
Is flexible working the next big recruiting tool? Can companies go digital without having to face talent with Silicon Valley? And what's this about robots running job interviews? Earlier this month, I participated in a roundtable held shortly after the 2018 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, which discussed this very topic. In attendance were Peter Searle – CEO, Airswift, Hannah Peet – executive director, Energy Jobline, Stephanie Rogers, managing director of resources at Accenture and Tony Salemme, VP of the workforce risk assessment group, Industrial Info Resources.
The 2018 GETI report found that the oil and gas industry is quite excited about the prospects for digitization, and Peet was quick to agree. “I think digitization can be a strong selling point for workers when the benefits are made clear,” she said. “As the GETI report showed, greater opportunities for remote and flexible work are in high demand, with four in ten respondents citing the key to attracting new talent to the industry. Companies that offer flexible working have a big advantage in attracting talent.”
Searle agreed and added that the last thing anyone wants is to be in a stagnant job. “Digitization offers a lot of room for growth,” he said. “For starters, data analysis and machine learning will transform monotonous processes into more agile and dynamic activities. People can be empowered for new roles, where they will be intellectually stimulated and have more room for advancement. ”
This involves a few things. For starters, companies can look for people who are especially interested in using new skills. It's also important for companies to show employees how these technologies support various career paths and ultimately keep their skill sets relevant as roles change.
Finally, a clear understanding of how these technologies can achieve desired business outcomes and enterprise-wide impact will be essential. “It's also worth noting that while new opportunities are important, pay is still one of the main selling points for workers,” added Peet. “The benefits of digitization will complement the power of payment, but not replace it.”
There is clearly still a divide between the potential of digitization and what is achievable. With that in mind, the conversation turned to what is realistic to expect from more flexible work opportunities. Salemme expressed the view that there is a strong business case for this. “The pressure for economies of scale and onshore development for offshore projects dovetails very well with flexible and remote working,” he said.
“We recently saw this in action with a large project in Papua New Guinea, where much of the initial development was done by teams in Singapore and Houston. Instead of just working on the PNG project, these teams were able to serve multiple projects remotely. The company was able to delay sending full teams to the PNG website until closer to launch. This not only reduced the onsite workload, but also provided more efficient use of these remote teams.
When it comes to discussing other ways that digitization can help increase worker satisfaction and improve retention rates, the fact that workers are more eager to improve in the new roles created by digitization than many realize was raised by Rogers. “We have conducted research that shows that workers are very interested in developing new skills to have greater digital capability,” she explained.
“Where companies are not providing training opportunities, workers are taking the initiative to go out and find education itself.”
This point ties in with what the GETI report revealed, where training and development opportunities were cited as one of the biggest drivers of satisfaction. People will want to stick with companies that invest in their futures. “Along these lines, apprenticeships and local development schemes will be essential,” Salemme said. “As powerful as multitasking is, nothing beats having strong local talent.”