The marginal recovery in the price of Brent crude in February was more or less wiped out again in March and now seems to be levelling out somewhere around the $60 mark. ‘After-shocks’ are likely to continue making predictions about what will happen next, more art than science. Some economists have suggested the market remains over-priced and that $35 or even $30 oil isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. Let’s hope they’re wrong. In the meantime, Operators have redoubled efforts to mitigate the effects of crippling lifting costs and are pressing ahead with internal cost and efficiency improvement initiatives. One can’t ignore the sense of deja-vu and accepting that the impact this time is long as well as deep, it is not the first time the industry has had to grapple with a significant challenge. The question is ‘what has the industry learnt from the past’ and how is it approaching this challenge differently? The answer isn’t obvious. There is continued focus on processes, organisation and ways of working – all worthy causes but is this enough to rescue the industry in these troubled times?
Whilst the Oil price crash was receiving headline coverage, another global crisis went largely unnoticed and unreported. I’m referring to ‘The State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide report’ which highlights findings from Gallup’s ongoing study of workplaces in more than 140 countries from 2011 through 2012. It is a damning report calling on leaders everywhere to stand up and take notice. For the United Kingdom the report finds only 17% of the workforce are actively engaged, 57% not engaged and 26% actively disengaged. Averages are always problematic and we’d like to think that these figures do not reflect the state of affairs in the Oil and Gas sector. However painful it may be to accept, the reality is that these figures are probably not far from the truth. If only partially reflective, the potential is still significant. We know that engaged employees are motivated, take ownership, use their initiative and solve problems. We can argue about the numbers and completely miss the point – the stark reality is that if the industry can engage another 25% of the workforce, it will more than double its problem solving capacity. This has to be a prize worth pursuing not only in terms of what engagement means short-term but for an industry that is being crippled by labour and skills shortages, the impact on retention and ability to attract high-calibre resources cannot be ignored.
Confidence in the sector is reported as being at an all-time low. It is time that Leaders stepped up to the mark and recognised that engagement is not about yielding to individuals perceived needs; it is about creating the conditions and climate where individuals are challenged and recognised, where they can thrive and to be successful and where they can feel part of a community bonded by a common purpose.