Talent management ‘key to long-term business prospects’

oil3Tackling the shortage of talent within the Middle East’s oil and gas sector has become a high priority for HR professionals throughout the region and is an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, writes HR Forum: Oil & Gas conference director Riad Mannan

Most oil and gas companies in this region and beyond are facing a critical talent pool shortage that could, if not tackled, hinder the long-term performance of their organisations.

While the root causes of the talent crunch are clear – an ageing workforce coupled with highly specialised roles and low supply of qualified engineers and managers – the solutions to meet the challenge remain less clear. Replacing this ageing workforce with a highly motivated, skilled and loyal staff has become the number one priority for many companies in this sector.

If they are to prosper in the future, they have to manage this ‘great turnaround’ now and ensure it is as smooth as possible.

So serious is the issue that, in recent years, heads of HR and recruitment have been focusing their efforts on a global recruitment drive. However, the recruitment pool is not as big as it used to be as younger, locally-based engineers are attracted to other engineering jobs outside the oil and gas sector, perhaps offering more pay and better conditions. This brings the issue of developing a globally mobile workforce to the fore, but this solution also has its own challenges, based around the ability to transfer staff smoothly from one part of the globe to another and managing that transition in a cost-effective way.


While recruitment is an outward facing feature of many oil and gas companies, they have also been realising that it is important to develop strategies to keep the people they already have. Managing their internal talent is a more personalised inward facing challenge, encompassing strategies for on boarding, engagement, career development, succession planning and developing leaders – in simple terms, doing all they can to keep the staff they already have.

However, it is not that simple either. All these issues have to be interweaved, both at a strategic level as well as the delivery point. Recent research carried out by Oil Review Middle East with industry HR and talent management professionals raises some interesting questions about how to develop the capability of staff, engage them, develop virtual leaders to manage virtual work teams and how to create a pipeline of leaders for effective succession planning. While recruitment can play a role in meeting the talent crunch challenge, it seems that managing the talent currently in place has become a high priority.

As competition for scarce human talent heats up, oil and gas companies have to develop their own internal pool of talent, devising innovative and flexible models, which are customised for their staff. This may mean more change management initiatives, proactively attracting more women and moving them up the ranks or more successful on boarding strategies, which lead to better employee engagement, performance and retention.

Creating workplaces where employees feel aligned and engaged with their roles and the organisation can be a highly effective way to retain staff. Additionally, understanding how engagement levels are influenced by an organisation’s culture, strategy execution, leadership, structure and processes are an important step. It lets employees take ownership of their own development and it underscores the link between individual performance and business results.

As the talent crunch in the oil and gas sector increasingly takes hold, companies need to meet this challenge head on or face a human resource crisis, in both the office and in the field. While recruitment is one part of the solution, effective talent management is a key component of the long-term answer.

The research carried out by Oil Review Middle East has led to the establishment of the HR Forum: Oil & Gas, which has its first event on 23–25 November 2014 in Dubai. This timely forum will provide a platform for oil and gas company representatives to debate not only these challenges, but more importantly, the solutions.

HR Forum: Oil & Gas


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