Look to Gen Y to alleviate a labor crunch: Deloitte

Work-life balance key to attracting younger hires, analyst says

November 30, 2011

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A Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada report released last spring that revealed the Canadian oil and gas industry could be short 130,000 workers in the next decade provided the starkest warning yet that a severe labor shortage is headed the industry’s way.

Deloitte Canada oil and gas analyst Chris Lee says one avenue to address the problem will be to figure out how to attract and retain the so-called “Generation Y” demographic – the term given to adults born between 1980 and the mid-1990s. It’s a potentially rich labor pool for the oil patch, which is why Lee says it is so critical that the petroleum sector tap into it.

But Lee cautions it won’t be an easy task. The traditional perks that convinced the baby boomers to work in the industry – high pay, bonuses, stock options, use of the company’s private jet – don’t resonate with Gen Y workers. “Companies have to figure out how they can create cultures that make Gen Y feel more accepted,” Lee says. “These people work hard, but they work differently.”

The analyst notes that Gen Y generally has less respect for traditional hierarchical structures within businesses than their parents did. And their motivation for working isn’t strictly driven by dollars and cents. Lee says as the oil and gas industry figures out how to woo this demographic to work in the oil patch, it will have to accept that turnover rates will be higher than they have been in the past.

But attracting this challenging group of workers isn’t impossible. Lee says the companies that do so will be the ones that are advanced in using tools like social networking in the workplace, provide challenging work environments and provide an attractive work-life balance.

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