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The Millennial Energy & Utility Workforce

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Energy and utility companies are suffering from both a talent shortage and a breakdown of the talent pipeline. Academic disciplines that normally deliver talent to energy companies — like Earth Sciences — are no longer providing that talent. Most graduates from these fields are choosing not to work in energy.

And an aging workforce means that for energy and utility companies, the fight to secure millennial workers is more urgent than ever.

Millennials are often maligned, but they are the future of the industry — and to capture the best and brightest millennial workers, energy and utility companies may have to change both their internal company culture and how they advertise themselves to the world.

Millennials Want Opportunities for Advancement

Millennials are not quite job hoppers, but Millennials are always on the job market — and if a position comes along that looks like a better fit, they may take a chance. But millennial job tenure is comparable to Generation X's. In the long-run, and given opportunities for advancement and skill development, millennials tend to stick around.

As veterans of the 2008 financial crisis, millennials are more likely to value professional growth and skill development, and also have less patience for time-based (rather than merit- or achievement-based) advancement.

Energy and utility companies are sometimes thought of as having less room for advancement and generally being stuck in the past. These all may be deal-breakers for a tech-savvy, forward-looking generation.

​​​​​​​Targeting Millennial Values

Company culture may need to change if energy and utility companies want to capture the millennial workforce. More than older generations, millennials want to feel like they're making a difference at work. 71% of millennials strongly agree that they know what their company stands for and plan to stay with their company for at least one more year.

Millennials are more likely to value a company culture that supports diversity and social justice initiatives. Oil and gas may have an especially difficult time recruiting millennials, given their reputation as harmful to the environment and less socially responsible. Conversely, greener energy companies may be able to leverage their environmental-friendliness as a selling point.

There are other ways that energy and utility companies can target millennial workers. Millennials want a good work-life balance and prefer spending time with colleagues to solitary work. While fulfilling these desires isn't possible for every position, energy and utility companies can benefit from making themselves a better fit for the millennials that want to collaborate more and keep the time they spend at work in check.

Building for a company culture that promotes millennial values can also be a form of future-proofing. While most are still in middle and high school, Gen Z is beginning to graduate college. And the members of Gen Z seem to have values that line up with millennial values — especially when it comes to workplace diversity and corporate social responsibility.

​​​​​​​Rebuilding the Talent Pipeline

Companies may have to rebrand and reposition themselves as modern workplaces to secure skilled millennial professionals and tradespeople. New marketing and recruiting strategies — like developing a high-quality social media presence — will likely be more effective at communicating these values and targeting millennials than traditional approaches.

Other, subtler changes may also help companies play better to millennial values. For example, millennials will respond better to words like "energy" than "engineering" or "oil and gas."

And stronger relationships with the colleges and universities that produce talent can help energy and utility companies recruit skilled workers. Targeting local schools with internships and job-placement programs can help rebuild the talent pipeline. Job placement rates for young college graduates are high — as much as 91%. Graduates with less than a bachelor's degree, however, were much less likely to be placed in a job after college. As few as 74% of those with some college but no bachelor's degree found work after graduation. 2-year colleges may be worth targeting by energy companies.

​​​​​​​Millennials Working in Energy & Utilities

For energy and utility companies, the fight to secure millennial workers won't be easy. Oil and gas companies face an uphill battle, but all energy and utility companies will have to contend with a public image that makes them less appealing to young workers. There are many different possible solutions to these problems — this could be by making the workplace higher-tech, or by investing more in philanthropy and social justice projects. But no matter what, energy and utility companies will likely have to change both their company culture and public image if they hope to capture the best and brightest millennial workers.

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Thank Nathan for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 19, 2019 2:33 pm GMT

There are other ways that energy and utility companies can target millennial workers. Millennials want a good work-life balance and prefer spending time with colleagues to solitary work. While fulfilling these desires isn't possible for every position, energy and utility companies can benefit from making themselves a better fit for the millennials that want to collaborate more and keep the time they spend at work in check.

Great points on company culture. The way to engage these workers is not just things like happy hours or a ping pong table in the break room-- what's needed are ways to build in buy-in to the company, engagement with the mission, and a happy life because of the employer. You nailed these points!

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