What Drives Baby Boomers in Oil, Gas?

What Drives Baby Boomers in Oil, Gas?
Rigzone's latest Ideal Employer Survey outlines key generational differences among baby boomer, Gen x, and millennial oil and gas pros.

Rigzone’s 2018 Ideal Employer Survey (IES), which received 6,621 responses from more than 100 countries, has outlined several key generational differences amongst baby boomers, Gen X, and millennial oil and gas professionals.

The survey, which asked respondents to rank a number of hard and soft attributes, found that baby boomers gave the attribute of a competitive salary a value of 87 percent out of 100. This was lower than Gen Xers and millennials, who valued the attribute at 91 and 89 percent, respectively.

Baby boomers also gave a competitive bonus a value of 75 percent and company perks a value of 53 percent. This was again lower than Gen Xers and millennials, who each valued a competitive bonus at 81 percent, and company perks at 58 and 61 percent, respectively.

Offering some insight into why baby boomers might be placing less worth on the fiscal aspect of their jobs, Amy Lynch, president of U.S.-based Generational Edge and a consultant on generations in the workplace, suggested that this particular group valued other rewards more.

“Boomers have always been a competitive generation,” Lynch told Rigzone.

“Recognition and awards matter, but money and perks may not be the rewards boomers want most. That is more likely to be personal recognition,” Lynch added.


Baby boomer expert Alexis Abramson, who has appeared on NBC’s Today show, CNN, CBS and various other media outlets, also suggested that money was not the attribute boomers valued highest.

“Most boomers feel that they will ‘make it work’ financially when they reach retirement and a huge income or financial windfall does not appear to attract them, especially if the monetary reward could potentially jeopardize their overall happiness and the passion they feel for their job,” Abramson told Rigzone.

Generational Differences to Travel, Career Development & Business Integrity

In Rigzone’s latest IES, baby boomer oil and gas professionals gave the attribute of a desirable work location a value of 74 percent, compared to 73 percent for Gen Xers and 70 percent for millennials. Having the opportunity to travel, on the other hand, was valued at 68 percent by boomers. Gen Xers valued this attribute at 72 percent and millennials at 75 percent.

“Although at times boomers disproportionately prioritize work, family and friends are also a strong focal point in their lives,” Abramson said.

“They prefer to stay close to home and are infamous for not wanting to leave their close-knit communities. The desire to reside in a satisfying work location falls within these parameters as they are motivated to live in a place that will enhance their personal life,” Abramson added.

Lynch supported Abramson’s view, stating that work locations may matter more to boomers because they want to be near family.

Abramson also said that what other generations may perceive as the ‘luxury’ of traveling for work, boomers simply see as work on the road.

“Boomers feel they have ‘been there and done that’ from a business travel perspective. Unlike younger generations who perceive the nomadic road-warrior journey to be a mini-vacation, boomers report this type of lifestyle as tedious and unproductive,” Abramson said.

“Baby boomers often voice that they see business travel – [and] travel in general – as a hassle now plagued with long lines, unsanitary transportation options and poor customer service … that said, most baby boomers will agree that any initial introduction should be done in person and they are willing to make the effort, even if it involves travel, to meet face-to-face,” Abramson added.

Looking at attributes related to career development, Rigzone’s IES showed that baby boomers gave the attribute of having solid training and development programs a value of 83 percent, and opportunities for promotion a value of 77 percent. In comparison, Gen Xers and millennials valued these attributes significantly higher, at 88 and 90 percent, and 87 and 88 percent, respectively.

“In similar polls, millennials always value career development more highly than boomers do,” Lynch said.

“Millennials and Gen Xers are in the building phase of their careers, so they are actively looking for ways to move forward, and that means learning. Gen Xers and millennials grew up expecting to have to keep learning all their lives, so career development is simply part of the plan, and it's something they routinely expect from employers. Boomers, not so much,” Lynch said.

“Boomers have worked for decades and don't have to keep learning in order to achieve a certain level. For the most part, they're there. But that can be a problem because employers need boomers to keep learning so that their work remains relevant and so that they add value as employees,” Lynch added.

Business integrity was another attribute in the IES that highlighted generational differences, with baby boomers valuing the attribute at 90 percent. Gen Xers valued this attribute at 89 percent and millennials valued it at 87 percent.

“Business integrity plays a primary role in [boomers’] lives and this trait is strongly aligned with their desire to act with authenticity and be consistent in whatever task they are undertaking,” Abramson said.

“Baby boomers often base their success on a predetermined moral value and belief compass. They take immense pride in having more attachment, commitment and loyalty to their employer than younger generations,” Abramson added.

Lynch said business integrity may matter deeply to boomers because they identify so much with their jobs.

“For boomers, an employer with integrity, a company they can trust, reflects well on the boomers themselves,” Lynch said.

A list of the top 10 highest ranked attributes from Gen Xers and millennials in Rigzone’s 2018 IES survey can be seen below.


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Stephen Watkins  |  June 23, 2018
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