Oil and Gas companies are still recruiting to keep up with lost talents despite price slump
Burned by the talent crunch created by hiring freezes in prior downturns, energy companies continue to beat the block for new recruits, even as they lay off older, more experienced workers amid the worst energy slump in years, two top energy executives said during a panel discussion Tuesday in Houston.
“We can’t stop hiring, we can’t stop recruiting because we’ve done that before and we’ve had to pay for it,” Telisa Toliver, senior vice president at Chevron Pipeline Co. told an audience gathered in downtown Houston for the Women’s Global Leadership Conference in Energy.
Despite falling oil prices that have battered the industry, Chevron has maintained a robust recruitment program, Toliver said, even as the multinational oil and gas company chopped 1,500 workers this year, including 950 in Houston.
Southwestern Energy Co., a Houston-based natural gas producer, said the company has continued to hire new people as it positions itself to meet the demands of an evolving market, Jenny McCauley, the company’s senior vice president of human resources said during the panel discussion.
“We don’t want to cut our nose off to spite our face by not recruiting and not maintaining the level of talent we need over time to grow and develop,” she said.
While some industry veterans may worry that companies are searching for younger and cheaper replacements amid a slump that has pinched budgets across the industry, McCauley said recruitment doesn’t have to displace existing workers. In response to an audience question about how companies can justify hiring new people while conducting massive layoffs, McCauley said Southwestern has not cut employees with higher pay to replace them with less-experienced hires at smaller salaries.
“The payoff isn’t there,” she said.
Southwestern has not implemented across-the-board cuts, but rather pared back in areas where the company has seen activity drop off, she said. The natural gas producer is also actively working to retain its top talent by sharing as much information as it can with its employees and making its leadership accessible for questions, she said.
Establishing clear and open lines of communication with employees is critical in a downturn so employees understand their roles in helping Chevron make progress on its strategies and goals, Toliver said.
“People may not like what they hear, but at least they know,” she said.
As employees working for energy companies watch the flurry of layoff announcements with trepidation, their best strategy is to work hard to better themselves and the company — figure out ways to leverage the crisis to create opportunities — rather than “hunkering down and just trying to survive,” McCauley said.
“During these times, if you’re just focusing on you, quite frankly, you’re being selfish and not thinking about the needs of the rest of the team and the company,” McCauley said. “We’re not victims.”