I’ve recently been assumed as a Partner in the employment team at Brodies LLP. Based in Aberdeen this naturally lends itself to assisting employers within the oil and gas sector with employment law and HR matters.
Taking this step up within Brodies has given me cause to think about what inspires younger generations to make important decisions about their careers. We regularly hear that they are shunning the more traditional industries and professions, turning to more technology-based roles. So what can employers do to attract this next generation of workers?
Generation Z have a vastly different outlook on life than their parent’s generation and even as compared to the Millennial generation. The values and behaviours of companies and businesses are important to them. They are not afraid to speak out about their views and will challenge organisations’ policies on issues like the environment, slavery and living wages. The recent school strikes against climate change across Europe and teenage lobbyists petitioning for gun reform in America are just a few high-profile examples.
Recent studies indicate that post-millennials will change jobs up to fifteen times in their career and, in the oil and gas industry in particular, more than half will work in a technology based role that does not yet exist. It is against this backdrop that employers need to consider the new roles they are creating as well as flexing their terms and conditions and working practices in order to attract new entrants to the labour market.
Much has been written of late about the developments we need to see in the sector in the period through to 2035. As part of this forecast there has been a great deal of discussion as to the types of new roles that will be created.
There is no getting away from the fact that an entire generation of workers are now entering the workforce who have grown up with gaming as part of their daily lives. They are digital natives and if we can offer them roles which allow them to deploy their technology skills and expertise, that has to be a win for them but also for us.
‘Flexi-Fridays’ have been a staple of the oil and gas industry for many years but beyond this, flexible working has, traditionally and wrongly, been considered the preserve of working parents. Since 2014 all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service have had the right to request to work flexibly. And we know that many employees value having flexibility when it comes to their working week. That may be because they have caring responsibilities or it may be that they want to undertake voluntary work, complete further studies or pursue other interests. Employers need to ensure that those deciding whether to grant an application for flexible working have undergone appropriate training and that there is open-mindedness as to how flexible working can be accommodated within the business.
Organisations should also consider whether they can offer more agile working practices. Do your employees need to be in the office or on site in order to perform their role? If not, thinking creatively about how and where the workforce can perform their roles will help to keep the next generation engaged. This isn’t just about working from home on an ad-hoc basis but having a genuine agile offering so perhaps complete remote working, hot-desking, twenty-four hour office access and cloud based document control.
Offering career breaks and sabbaticals can also aid workforce attraction. Discussing these options with employees early on in their careers and building clear parameters around how such a break can be achieved also helps to ensure that talented employees don’t simply resign when they feel that they need to take a break.
Inclusion of support for qualifications can also be a key talent attraction tool. Offering terms allowing study leave, contributions to training costs and access to quality internal and external training generally is, we know, a key draw for Gen Z employees.
Employers in the sector need to balance these new drivers against current employment policies and strategies in place as well as the existing culture of the organisation. Undertaking a review of employment terms and policies is a good starting point and this is something our employment team, here at Brodies, can assist with.