Survey Shows Energy Job Security Concern

Survey Shows Energy Job Security Concern
A new survey of energy workers shows a majority of respondents are worried about their job security given COVID-19 and the sharp drop in oil prices.

A newly released University of Houston (UH)-led survey of energy workers concludes that more than half – 53 percent – of respondents are worried about their job security given the dual threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp drop in oil prices.

The UH online survey of 408 energy workers, conducted from March 25 to April 1 of this year, also determined that nearly 40 percent of respondents are worried about paying their mortgages and other bills, the university noted in a written statement to Rigzone.

Some additional results from the study, which UH conducted with the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association (PESA), Pink Petro and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), include:

  • 83 percent agree that their company had provided “fast and efficient” technology for working remotely during the pandemic
  • 71 percent credit their supervisor for working effectively with employees to overcome work-family challenges arising from COViD-19
  • 47 percent expressed optimism about the long-term health of the energy industry.

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents worked in the oil and gas sector, with the remainder representing alternative energy and power and utilities. Pointing out that participants on average had 16 years of energy industry work experience and presumably would have weathered previous downturns, UH stated the research team expected to see more long-term optimism from industry veterans.

“We didn’t see that at all,” commented Christiane Spitzmueller, a UH industrial psychologist and one of the study leaders.

Pink Petro CEO and Founder Katie Mehnert observed that the shortage of positive sentiment about the future is not limited to the oil and gas industry. However, she sees reason for hope from a workforce perspective.

“This is pretty consistent across all industries right now, so I’m not sure we are any different,” Mehnert told Rigzone. “I’m optimistic about the future in terms of human resources needs and more concerns about the fact we will be short on people in the longer term. Prior to COVID-19 we had three challenges facing the energy workforce: demographic cliff (the war for talent was real across all industries), the lack of diversity and inclusion in our workforce and the stigma/lack of ‘IVP’ – a compelling industry value proposition.”

Mehnert also said the high marks energy companies received in the survey for quickly adapting to COVID-19 workforce changes represent an encouraging sign.

“My hope is that companies will learn from COVID-19 and focus on creating a more flexible work culture,” noted Mehnert. “This is something both men and women will benefit from. COVID-19 has proven that we can be flexible when forced to.”

Spitzmueller’s partners in the study include UH Chief Energy Officer Ramanan Krishnamoorti. Robert Gordon University industrial psychologist Rhona Flin and UH graduate student and research assistant Aparajita Datta.

UH has posted the 28-page study, which includes policy recommendations, on its website.

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