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Talent Management Professionals Discuss Best Practices for Hiring, Retention in Energy Sector

Attracting, retaining, and developing talent in the oil and gas industry is challenging, especially in the skilled trades, noted speakers during the “Skills Based Talent Management Best Practice Sharing” webinar last week.

The webinar was sponsored by the Human Resources and I&D Engagement committees.

Advisory Board Member Dave Warnick, Anthropont, and Rob Davis, NexGenLiink, discussed the new expectations in hiring and how talent is one of the top three challenges facing energy companies today. Members Katherine Hargis, Key Energy Services; Joe Saathoff & Rachel Brent, Kahuna; and H.R. Pan, Brigade Energy Services, offered insights and best practices specific to the sector.

Warnick led the discussion, highlighting how talent management remains a significant obstacle for the industry.

“This is probably impacting the oil and gas and energy space even harder than other companies,” Warnick said. “We have a lot of open roles. The broader marketplace is challenging, but I think especially in our space, it’s even more challenging.

According to Gallup, U.S. companies spend over a trillion dollars in employee turnover costs per year, Warnick said. And with 67% of U.S.-based workers saying they are planning on changing jobs in 2023, talent management in the oilfield may only get harder.

“The great crew change that we’ve all been talking about for years and years is happening, and we now have four generations in the workforce, and it will be five in the next several years. That also puts some of our cultural practices, the way that we’ve done things or the way that we’ve traditionally looked at things, more challenging.”

Dave Warnick, Anthropont

How does the industry tackle these challenges? Warnick shared several possible solutions beginning with reviewing your employee value proposition and messaging of your company purpose to see how that resonates with potential and future employees – particularly the next-generation talent. He also recommended leveraging the work done by Energy Workforce on developing an industry-wide value proposition and talking points that can effectively communicate our story as an industry.

Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of implementing in-house development programs and establishing clear skills-based career progression paths. Additionally, integrating applied technology to enhance the employee experience and improve the perception of the company was identified as a potential strategy, as well as including DEI initiatives and collaboration with partners to pilot solutions with a broad cross-functional team.


Davis shared his experience around working with next-generation workers and identified three priorities that emerge during his conversations: workplace flexibility, corporate values aligning with personal values and whether companies are genuinely committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

“DEI is not merely a talking point for next-generation workers,” Davis said. “They live it and can see when companies are serious about it.”

Companies can start with performing a thorough assessment, encompassing three key areas: digital, physical and cultural. He suggested creating a panel of next-generation workers to meticulously evaluate the company’s operations. This panel should focus on scrutinizing the digital footprint, assessing the physical workplace environment and examining the prevailing company culture. By involving the next-generation workforce in this evaluation process, companies can gain valuable perspectives and insights that will assist in attracting and retaining talent from upcoming generations.


Joe Saatoff and Rachel Brent with Kahuna touched on how talent management can be viewed through the lens of operations.  Across the energy value chain, operational skills management is helping organizations align training programs with competency development, responding to regulatory and customer audits, dispatching workers based on competency proficiency, providing visibility into that progression and building a resilient workforce.

“Being able to manage talent by adopting a ‘capability mindset’ and having these data points on hand helps to measure the proficiency and understand the gaps so you can take a cohesive approach when addressing the talent issue,” Saatoff said.


Hargis shared that belonging is a key factor in attracting and retaining employees. She advised that Key Energy Services launched a competency and pay equity program over a year ago that is having success in retaining talent. Hargis said following up with the employees, rewarding those who progress in their competency program and speaking with each employee about a career path is important.

“Key Energy has programs across the company that are used as touch points to both new and established talent to help train and grow each employee,” Hargis said.

She mentioned Key has found the most success with in-person training, which has helped tremendously with employee retention. Hargis also noted that upgrading technology across the organization and making training easier to access on location is working well for Key.

Pan spoke about training being the key initiative within Brigade Energy Services.

“One of the key initiatives for us is to make sure that our crew members are properly trained to do all the jobs that are expected to while they’re in the field and do it safely and competently,” Pan said.

Pan noted the company has identified more than 300 skills and competencies needed for each position in the company. These are divided into four different levels — awareness, fundamentals, skills and mastery — and they encompass safety and leadership and technical training, so everyone can see what is the career path.

“We’ve created a series of what we call micro learnings through video,” Pan said. “They’re short, three-to-five minute videos that runs through each step. These have had a lot of great feedback because it’s accessible on demand. They could actually be at wellsite and pull up the video and see exactly what the procedure is that they need to do if they need refresher.”

For more information about the Human Resources and I&D Engagement Committees, contact Director of Operations Roni Ashley.

Roni Ashley, Director Operations, writes about the Energy Workforce’s membership, workforce development and more. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.


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