Companies leverage new methods to hire and retain Millennials

Companies in the petrochemical industry are leveraging new methods to hire and retain Millennials – from updating social networking presence to providing beneficial training, and even through team scholarship competitions.

This year is set to be a milestone in the US labor market. For the first time, the Millennial generation, or people born between 1980 and 2000, will outnumber their older colleagues in the US workforce. This demographic shift is changing multiple aspects of the world of work as companies grapple with how to recruit, engage and retain these young professionals.

Millennials differ from the Baby Boomer generation in their outlook on the working world. According to a Deloitte Millennial Survey published in 2014, they have big demands and expectations from business and the future workplace.

Most Millennials prefer to use digital technologies to be more untethered than ever and want to work for companies that develop their skills, foster innovation and make a positive contribution to society.

Some 95% of college students, for example, are socially networked compared to 29% of professional adults, according to a study released by the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)

Social media is key to attract the Facebook generation

Using social media to recruit craft workers has made a tremendous difference at Fluor, according to Jim Hanna, executive director of construction, fabrication and craft services.

“I have been doing this for 32 years with Fluor and back in the day, you obviously didn’t have computers and cell phones, and it was all word of mouth. Now we are leveraging heavily social media with texting and e-mail campaigns, e-mail blasts, radio ads, billboards,” he said.

Fluor attracts craft workers through its website, which is also translated into Spanish. On the day the website was revamped several years ago, Fluor posted 15 typical staff positions and also a few maintenance jobs.

The response was tremendous. In the first day alone, more than 2,000 people hit it through social media, Hanna recently said during an energy construction forum in Galveston, Texas.

Fluor is also proactively using texting in its recruitment. Job candidates review a list of craft jobs at the company's website, provide their information, answer a few questions, and then a recruiter begins contact. The recruiter would suggest jobs in several areas at various wages and ask the candidate if they are interested in pursuing the job. 

“Millennials typically are not going to look through a paper searching for a job,” said Sarah Bredemeyer, a well scheduling coordinator for oil and gas exploration company Concho

“We’ll use websites, such as LinkedIn, Rigzone, or go to company websites that we know in the industry. These are great tools because we can save searches on these sites and have jobs emailed to us when available. Plus, some of these sites have apps for our fancy phones. Instant, up-to-date access.”

Sarah’s husband, Blake, recently left a career as a physical trainer for a job in the energy industry after a manager at Key Energy contacted him via text to invite him to an interview. Through LinkedIn connections, Blake later ended up working at GE Oil and Gas, a supplier of core liquefaction technologies.

Millennials look for different job benefits

The shortage of skilled craft workers in the petrochemical and industrial construction industries requires employers to implement strategies to attract and compete for the best talent.

Millennial workers say they are most attracted to extra time off, paid training, smart phones and a company committed to family and community, versus the best healthcare and retirement plans, which are highly important to previous generations.

“Millennials are highly educated, want promotions and career development quickly, are devoted to a cause so much that a strong mission of the organization may outweigh pay,” said Dr. Jan Ferri-Reed, co-author of the book ‘Keeping the Millennials.’

“Millennials work to live and view work 24/7, so lots of companies are using flexible schedules and virtual work to attract and keep them. And the biggest characteristic – they are technology-savvy and want state-of-art technology in their jobs.”

In 2009, the average tenure for a Millennial at a company was between 1 and 1.5 years. Since the global recession, this has expanded to 18-24 months, according to Ferri-Reed.

Bredemeyer cited the benefits at her company as key reason she has stayed with Concho for six years.

The company has a big presence in the community – from sponsoring park restorations and litter pick-up days, to providing family nights at the local theater, and baseball tickets to the local minor league baseball games.

It is also building an amenities center and provides medical services exclusively to Concho employees and their families at no cost to the workers. It has also broken ground on a new childcare facility. These benefits are provided to retain employees, in addition to yearly stock bonuses, cash bonuses, ROTH 401k retirement plans and health insurance.

“Because of these benefits, I would have a hard time leaving Concho, and it is why a lot of people come to Concho,” Bredemeyer said.

“There are not many companies that can compete with our company’s benefits. A nice, big salary is great, but benefits can really take the cake. When you’re young and starting a family, it’s nice to work for a company that has a family & community focus.”

Students compete to create recruiting campaign for AFPM

When faced with the challenge of how to attract more young people to the oil and petrochemical industry, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) decided to go to the source, asking students to devise a plan.

Working together with marketing education consultancy EdVenture Partners (EVP), students from nine two- and four-year colleges around the US will compete with each other to develop and implement a community-based marking campaign to educate students and the local community on the range of career opportunities within the fuel and petrochemical manufacturing industries.

“The marketing campaigns will highlight the various pathways (e.g., schooling, apprenticeships, training, etc.) to pursue an industry career and support the development to skilled craft professionals (e.g., welders, electricians, laboratory technicians, etc.) to meet the industries’ needs,” said Melissa Hockstad, vice president of petrochemicals at AFPM, which also launched a website in 2014 to explain and promote career paths in the petrochemical and fuel industries.

Participating schools in the competition include Colorado Mesa University, Delgado Community College, Illinois Institute of Art at Chicago, Lone Star College – Kingwood Campus, Penn State University, Prairie View A&M, San Jacinto College, University of Houston and University of Texas at Arlington.

The top three teams will be selected to present their marketing brief and strategy to AFPM member company executives. The winning team’s campaign materials will be shared broadly for use by AFPM staff and AFPM member companies.

“The AFPM Recruitment Challenge project provides AFPM with an innovative way to access, communicate with and work with college and university students in solving real issues that provide real results,” Hockstad said. 

“We are looking for perspectives through the students’ eyes regarding ways to increase Millennials’ awareness and interest in careers with the fuel and petrochemical industries."

By Heather Doyle