As I talk to more and more people, the reality is beginning to sink in that a full-blown recession is upon us and highly likely to add to the indigestion we are expecting to impose upon our bodies as we enjoy the excesses of Christmas.
Worrying times indeed and, as a friend recently commented, we are in “a time when anybody who would claim to have an understanding of where we are likely to go next should rightly be consigned to the nearest psychiatric facility for their own safety”.
There are a lot of confused people – not least oil folk – suffering from the condition
we least like, which is uncertainty in every direction.
Last month, I commented on the all too brief appearance of the UK’s current (at the time of writing) energy minister at PETEX. Well, maybe I am hanging out in the wrong places, but history, it seems, has a habit of repeating itself.
Last week, I was delighted to be in attendance at the NiA and BNES annual dinner. I was pleased to meet again with Malcolm Wicks – twice an energy minister – at the drinks reception. The following day, at the hugely important nuclear skills workshop – hosted, aptly, and very ably, by the Royal Academy of Engineering – the lack of Government representation was very conspicuous.
If we are on the road to nuclear renaissance, the Government surely must be concerned about getting visibly involved in ensuring that everything that can be done to enable the process in human terms is, in fact, taken care of, especially since the message from the nuclear and military camps is that Britain’s nuclear skills base is now seriously eroded.
Moving on, I have a few concerns to share regarding anyone contemplating a well earned rest from the oil&gas sector. In talking to senior figures, it is clear that some folks who are at, or nearing, retirement are now taking the opportunity to stay longer to top up their severely depleted pension funds.
This, of course, is good insofar as their critical experience is being retained – and the clear message is that the people with experience are needed. However, this is a quick-fix Band-Aid.
Regardless of the fact that we are in a downturn, it is likely that things will improve again. By how much we don’t know and can’t speculate, but what is for sure is that the clock won’t stop ticking.
People who are 55 and 60 now will be 60 and 65 in five years’ time. The concern and message is this: retain people for cash only now and ignore the bigger issues at your peril.
Retention is important, but you must get the terms right. Once the FTSE is restored, the people who are retained just for cash will leave as quickly as they stayed on. In a few years’ time, when things are better, cash alone will not be the incentive.
Companies must take steps now to understand the long-term issues around the impact of retirement. So significant is this as a factor that it should be on every responsible CEO’s corporate sustainability agenda, not an HR study on demographics.
We, at Expert Alumni, know we can help in this area and feel it is a key area of focus for all responsible companies.
Jon Glesinger is CEO of Expert Alumni