Embracing Brand-Linked-Sustainability Can Help Oil & Gas Companies Win the Talent War

By Rachael Shayne

A new world of white-collar work emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic that has completely altered the relationship between employer and employee. While attitudes, gas prices, new hybrid work policies, and technology tools have dismantled the traditional work model, the relationship between a company and its employees has also shifted, with employees now asking more of their employer. You’ve probably heard of sustainability-linked lending. This is sustainability-linked-employment.

This is perhaps best illustrated by ‘The Great Resignation,’ with historically high quit rates witnessed in the US since late 2020. In turn, this has sparked ‘The Great Reshuffle’ as workers are now switching jobs as easily as changing their browser window to find better working conditions, wellness support, higher wages, and companies to work for whose ideals match their own.

The latter’s importance cannot be understated, particularly among young talent. From consumption to investing, to which companies they work for, Millennials and Zoomers demonstrate that ethics is a top priority. According to a Nielsen report, 73% of Millennials were willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands, compared to 66% of general consumers. Similarly, ethical investing has been most popular with younger investors, with a study from New York Life Investments finding that 91% of clients aged 24-19 showed interest in ESG investing.

These trends apply when shopping for employers, too. For instance, a study by Cone Communications on Millennial employees found that 64% will not take a job if the employer does not have a strong CSR policy, while 83% would be more loyal to a firm that assists them in contributing to social and environmental issues. Meanwhile, the data is even more convincing among Zoomers, who are expected to comprise 30% of the US workforce in two years (2024). A recent study by WeSpire revealed that Generation Z is the first generation to prioritize purpose over salary, with most Zoomers also stating they would leave companies with negative environmental or social impacts.

How Working on Something Meaningful Contributes to Employee Wellness as Much as Salary and Flexibility

  1. When employees are satisfied with their work, it shows. When they are happy, it reflects that they are present and engaged in the work that they are doing. A study from the University of Warwick found that happiness made people around 12% more productive.
  2. Working for a company with strong social responsibility commitments and proof of achievement or progress can make employees feel like they are making a difference in their community. It can be a deflection or even a fortification of skills when employees feel despondent or bored at work. 
  3. When a company is invested in helping others or giving back, it helps employees feel connected to something bigger than themselves and creates meaning beyond the day-to-day tasks. It helps offer belonging cues instead of othering signals.
  4. Purpose-driven organizations can better attract talent that is not primarily concerned with salary or benefits alone.
  5. Many people find it rewarding to work for a company that gives back in demonstrable ways. It can be something as simple as donating time to organize community events, leading efforts to make the environment cleaner or even preventing neighborhood violence.
  6. A growing number of companies are offering employees access to mental wellness programs and stipends, providing employees with healthier headspace to focus on thriving, and innovating.
  7. Having a greater sense of meaning in your job can make it more challenging to leave the company.
  8. HR teams should prepare for “Healthiest Companies to Work For” instead of “Best.”

Benefits of Having Purpose-Driven Employees in Your Company

  1. Employees at companies with a greater purpose tend to stay and work for more extended periods than employees in ‘traditional’ jobs or ‘less attractive’ pursuits.
  2. “Protecting the environment remains a top priority for Gen Zs and millennials. About three-quarters of respondents believe the world is at a tipping point in responding to climate change, but less than half are optimistic that efforts to protect the planet will be successful.” (The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey)
  3. Purpose-driven companies attract better talent, and their teams are more productive, engaged, and loyal to their employers. This means that they will be more successful in the long run.
  4. Purpose-driven organizations operate for profit and benefit while putting employees, customers, and society on an equal footing.
  5. In a recent survey by Forbes, 87% of Millennials said they would switch jobs if it “better aligns with their personal values.”
  6. New platforms allow previous employees to share reviews of their companies, making it more transparent for potential employees. (Yes, there are more than just Glassdoor and LinkedIn posts)
  7. Let’s be honest; most employees don’t know your vision, mission, and values by heart. But in purpose-driven companies, it’s easier to relate to these tenets, which give them teeth and meaning that infuses how teams operate.
  8. Your ESG report has legs now. All that work to collect E, S, and G data can be applied more broadly as a point of pride.
energy transition commitment

Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Oil & Gas Talent

industry labor abandonment

Technological advancements and ESG-forward leaders in the oil & gas industry have created the opportunity for a step-change in sustainability within the sector. Genuine transparency and active participation in the energy transition can reposition an oil & gas brand attracting new talent and offering buyers a real choice to make. Today, the tools exist to measure emissions profiles at wells minute by minute, all the way down to the parts-per-billion. And third-party certification programs, such as Project Canary, can measure and accurately assess that natural gas is produced and transported with the highest standards of environmental responsibility concerning air, water, land, and community. This Responsibly Sourced Gas (RSG) movement is a gamechanger for the energy transition. It provides the world with the gas we need to maintain our lifestyles while drastically lowering emissions and taking steps today that buy us more time to find even more solutions to climate change. The fact is, every well is drilled differently, and every facility has unique features to it. That’s why we take a well-by-well, pad-level approach to assessing and scoring operations. We want to build confidence in the RSG markets and ESG promises and enable the sector’s viability through the energy transition. This is the new way of committing to emissions reduction – with measured proof – to showcase to shareholders, investors, communities, and, importantly, employees. Data delivers on promises.

Make no mistake. This is a big Ask for the oil and gas industry. The easy way out, the “easy button,” is to simply comply with regulations and deliver an estimated area-wide, regional emissions. Millennials and Zoomers see right through it. In a world that is differentiating a critical commodity, ESG data can be a crucial part of your brand and corporate communications strategies when you view it this way.

“Your customers will never be any happier than your employees.” —John DiJulius.

Doing otherwise is a disservice to the emerging Responsibly Sourced Gas (RSG) market because when we take an area-wide or regional approach based on sample sizes and extrapolations, you don’t have all the granular information and will miss things. That’s the easy way out, the easy button. At Project Canary, we are committed to working with producers to certify their operations on a well-by-well and pad-level basis so that they can have confidence in their operations and, importantly, guarantee the associated environmental attributes to their buyers and employees. 

RSG offers energy companies the opportunity to be a force for good and a catalyst for change by driving decarbonization. Seizing this enormous opportunity will position companies positively to attract the best and brightest minds of the next generation of oil & gas talent. In the near term, it means getting a serious look from top talent in the fluid job market.

In his annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink writes that the foundation of capitalism is the process of constant reinvention, adding that companies must continually evolve as the world around them changes, or they risk being replaced by new competitors. This could not be truer for oil & gas companies, as those that fail to realize that (actual) ESG is a business imperative will struggle to attract the best young minds and find themselves competing against purpose-driven firms.

As companies find themselves amid a talent war following the Great Resignation, energy firms should re-examine their role in decarbonization and the net-zero mantra so that employees can understand and connect with their purpose. Companies that can demonstrate they are taking real action to cut emissions and have independent proof of those actions will move to the top of the line for most Millennials and Zoomers. By choosing to lead in the energy transition and producing premium RSG, oil & gas firms can enhance their ability to attract top young talent and create stronger bonds with their employees. This will lower turnover and generate higher returns, effectively creating a triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.

About Project Canary

Project Canary is a SaaS-based data analytics company focused on accurate corporate climate ESG data for emission-intensive industrial companies. We are the leaders in holistic environmental assessments (air, water, land, and community). Project Canary scores responsible operations, delivering independent emission profiles via high-fidelity continuous monitoring technology to provide actionable environmental performance data. Our sensor portfolio includes high-fidelity spectroscopy-based methane detection and emissions quantification for the oil and gas sectors, plus Aeris Technologies’ laser-based gas analyzers covering other emissions, including ethane, nitrous oxide, formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, benzene, and more. Formed as a Public Benefit Corporation, Project Canary’s Denver-based team of scientists, engineers, and seasoned industry operators identify and quantify areas to reduce emissions. www.projectcanary.com

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