IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, the independent
workforce has grown more than five times
faster than traditional means of employment
– across all industries – contributing $1.15
trillion annually to the economy. Within the
oil and gas industry, the rise in independent
workers is no different. Accenture estimates
that in the oil and gas industry, as much as
77% of the workforce resides outside the core
Call them freelancers, independent contractors, or consultants, these workers are Americans of all skill, education, and
income levels who look regularly to independent work for income, opportunity, and satisfaction. According to MBO Partners’
workforce survey, there are over 40 million independent workers,
which includes 16. 9 million in full-time positions. By 2021, that
number is expected to grow to 48. 9 million.
But efficient and compliant engagement of this fast-growing
talent pool is not without unique challenges for the oil and gas
industry. Executives should consider the following four key
topics to engage with and retain top independent talent.
ADAPT TO CHANGING WORKFORCE DEMOGRAPHICS
Many industries are seeing a changing of the guard as older
workers seek retirement and Millennials become the largest
percentage of the workforce. The oil and gas industry is no
exception. Richard D. Slack, president and CEO of Oildex, calls
it a “talent crisis,” stating, “We know that Millennials are the
most promising group of workers to take the reins in our industry,
but we are challenged by needing to provide them with the
experience and training to take our industry – one that competes
globally – into the future.”
For companies looking to engage independent workers, this
shift is a multi-step process. First, it means adapting workforce
practices and engagement models to keep pace with changing
workforce demographics. This may mean updating systems to
become more technologically friendly for digital native Millennials
or providing necessary training to get younger workers up to speed.
This may also mean creating new independent and part-time
opportunities for Baby Boomer workers who offer valuable knowl-
edge and skills, but no longer have the desire to work full-time.
This is not an easy task, and requires creating a nuanced and
compliant contingent workforce program to properly classify
and engage this new talent. It also means keeping pace with
regulatory changes as well as remaining a nimble organization
for the talent itself.
SPECIALIZATION IS KEY
In the oil and gas industry, many roles require specific special-
izations and certifications. Finding contractors with the right
set of skills and experiences is challenging, but not impossible.
On the whole, independents tend to be more experienced and
specialized than their traditionally employed counterparts.
Sixty percent of independent workers offer a specialized skill
that requires certification, special training, or education, and
the average tenure for those working full-time is more than
double the average of traditional employees, making this cohort
a great resource for oil and gas executives looking to update
their HR and staffing models.
LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY TO ENGAGE
AND RE-ENGAGE WORKERS EFFECTIVELY
Today, many oil and gas companies rely on word-of-mouth,
referral, and even phone calls to friends to find top talent.
However, systems like MBO Partners’ own MBO Connect™allow
companies to develop private talent pools to easily find, engage,
and re-engage top independent talent. These programs allow
companies to reduce costs associated with time to fill, recruitment, and even training, as workers placed in the talent pool
are already known to your organization and its policies. MBO’s
proprietary worker engagement and classification models also
ensure compliant engagement and streamlined management
of independent talent, meaning fewer burdens on HR and legal
departments, ultimately leading to cost savings.
BECOME A CLIENT OF CHOICE
Oil and gas executives must understand how best to utilize
these independent workers. Using a service such as MBO Partners ensures that talent is not only engaged compliantly, but
that workers are provided with the tools they need to spend
time focused on the tasks that matter to your company’s bottom line – not worrying about things like invoicing, payment,
and where their next gig is coming from.
Independent workers choose independence because they
can control their own schedules and have more flexibility in
their work. Sixty-five percent are satisfied with their chosen
profession, suggesting that independence will continue to grow.
By making it easy for both the worker and the client, savvy oil
and gas companies can become a client of choice for top independents in the industry.
In 2017, it will be increasingly important for companies to
make it easier for top independent talent to work with their
organizations and to make it cost-effective and streamlined for
the company itself to do business with independent talent.
Gene Zaino is CEO of MBO Partners. An expert in the contract
workforce market, he has appeared in various publications, including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal.
He has also appeared on CNN and CNBC. Zaino holds a BSE
degree (cum laude) from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton
School of Business.
Engaging top independent talent