The oil industry continues to be one of the most important components of our country’s infrastructure. The oil produced is essential to power our vehicles, heat our homes, and make thousands of products that we all use every day. The problem is that as a society, we often take oil for granted, and most of us never think about the hard-working men and women that keep the industry afloat. This assumption needs to change, and it has to happen quickly.
Recent numbers show that oil workers are leaving their jobs in astounding numbers, often because of harsh working conditions and long shifts that can take them away from their families. Those who manage oil workers need to take the necessary steps to appreciate their teams and create the best possible work environment so our oil industry can continue to succeed.
Employee Appreciation Can Prevent Turnover
There are many reasons why employee appreciation is essential in the oil industry, and the most significant one is that happy and fulfilled workers are harder and more dedicated workers. In a specialized field like oil and gas, you need the best and most dedicated employees you can find. Happy employees also help a company’s bottom line, both with how much they can produce and how much money a company can save by keeping existing employees.
Many management teams don’t think about it, but the cost associated with losing an employee and going through the recruitment, hiring, and training process for a new person can be pricey. In fact, recent sources say that in the oil industry, the turnover cost can actually exceed 400 percent of an employee’s annual salary. When you consider the fact that some oil employees make upwards of 290k a year, that can be a costly endeavor that you want to avoid.
To prevent oil workers from looking for opportunities elsewhere, your business first has to show good business ethics. This means operating with accountability and fairness to all employees. Everyone on the staff should be treated equally, and if they do the same tasks, they should be paid accordingly. Oil workers come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, so sensitivity should be shown to all that need it and no employee should ever feel left out.
While fairness across the board is essential, oil companies can also do more as far as rewarding specific employees who have made a big impression or have gone above and beyond to help a teammate. Create a recognition program and announce winners each month. Provide rewards that mean something, like an extra day off or a gift card to a desirable restaurant. Announce the employee awards publicly so great performers are encouraged to continue their work ethic, and those who need that extra boost have something to work towards.
Prioritize Mental Health
While many oil workers may give the appearance of being tough people who can handle anything, those who work in the field are typically engaged in back-breaking work that may not be sustainable for the long term. For that reason alone, oil industry managers need to consider the mental health of their teams and provide the support necessary to ensure that their staff remains in the best spirits in and outside of the workplace.
You can start by having an open-door policy where any employee can come to management or the HR team and express their concerns. In these confidential meetings, managers should actively listen and assist with the employee’s needs so the worker knows that their voice was heard. In addition to offering health insurance, oil companies can also provide mental health benefits, such as free psychiatric counseling or telehealth visits, to assist with any mental health struggles they might be dealing with.
Like all industries, oil companies must also provide the work/life balance that is essential for a healthy body and mind. Many oil workers work long 10-12 hour days for weeks at a time, and while they may enjoy that work, it can take its toll on their wellbeing. Management should consider hiring extra staff members to create shorter shifts that will allow employees to get home to their families and come back to work refreshed. Knowing that longer shifts are the norm in the oil industry, an employee will appreciate this new approach and may stick with the company longer.
Perhaps the best way that you can show employee appreciation is by creating the safest environment possible, especially when working in dangerous situations. Again, an open-door policy and active communication can make all the difference. Encourage employees to come to management when they see an unsafe situation and assure them that it will be handled appropriately. You can also have daily safety meetings before each shift to remind the team of the proper guidelines and ensure a safe day at work.
To guarantee a safe environment every day, management needs to ensure that all machines and tools are maintained on a regular basis. Oil machinery is very complex and even the smallest overlooked issues can end in injury. Injuries can be caused by something as small as a broken piece that results in a trip or fall to a major catastrophe, like the unfinished pressure valve that resulted in the death of 167 workers. Companies can show that they care by performing maintenance whenever necessary and keeping active logs whenever something is fixed, so the staff knows that management is taking action.
There are also many little things management can do that can make a big impression when it comes to safety in the workplace. For instance, proper signage should be placed above common hazards like machinery with many moving parts and any spill that makes the floor dangerous to walk on. It is also important to require all workers to take breaks at least twice during an eight-hour shift along with their lunch break. Breaks are essential because they ensure that your employees are not overworked or stressed. They also provide a chance for them to breathe, stretch, and relax, so they can return to their stations refreshed.
For many oil workers, the knowledge that their efforts are fueling the country is enough for them to happily punch in every day. However, clocking in with a company that cares will give them a reason to give 110 percent, and the productivity numbers will speak for themselves.
Indiana Lee lives in the Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Lee also has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.