The unpredictable nature of the petrochemical industry has been on full display recently, with oil prices taking a dive, so precipitous, analysts say the oil and gas sector lost approximately $1 trillion over a 40- day period in October and November.
It’s those wild swings that make staffing a huge challenge for human resource (HR) departments across the industry, said Steve Werner, professor and chair of Bauer College’s Department of Management & Leadership.
“The industry has a reputation of being very cyclical, with booms and busts. When people get laid off, it is a major dramatic event. Many go into other industries that don’t have as many layoffs and don’t come back,” Werner recently told an interviewer for an industry publication.
One solution has been to integrate HR with an organization’s strategic planning,
“In most industries, HR is now a key player in strategic decisions,” said Werner, an author of books on managing human resources who serves on the editorial boards of several leading management and human resource journals.
“This makes sense because labor and employees are a key stakeholder and important organizational factor in any strategy.”
The global nature of the industry is an untapped incentive for the next generation of potential employees, Werner said. “Young people are very interested in seeing the world, and being in the oil and gas industry allows you to work in places that very few other industries offer.”
Werner would like to see firms work on better adapting to economic changes, improving the industry’s reputation, engaging the workforce, and increasing the representation of women, he said.
By Julie Bonnin