BLOG – 03.05.21

The Cherry On Top

Awards season has begun. The Golden Globes were last week, the BAFTAs and Oscars are still to come, and of course this week saw the cHeRries Awards, celebrating excellence in the fields of human resources, training, and recruitment across Northeast Scotland. Okay, so they’re not quite in the same league – the film and television industries are slightly more high profile and have a little more cash to spend on their events – but at their core they’re basically the same.

Awards ceremonies are a chance for industries to celebrate themselves and the work that they do. They provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate a good job well done. Winners of awards set a standard for others to aspire to and, for those outside the industry, awards serve as signposts to quality – I’ve certainly chosen to watch films purely because they’re awardwinning. But awards are also about judgement: they are an opportunity to assess and evaluate nominees and to identify areas where they are strong and where they might be lacking.  

So why, in an energy transition blog, am I talking about awards season? Xodus was a finalist in the category of ‘Exemplary Employer of Choice’ at the cHeRries Awards. To win, an organisation has to demonstrate that people are at the heart of the business and that the business strategy is inclusive, true to the company’s values, and has widespread employee buy-in. At the time of writing, I don’t know whether or not we’ve won but that’s not really the point. The point is that knowing that Xodus was nominated has provided me with an opportunity to think about my employer in that light and to question the extent to which I, as an employee, agree with it. It’s also got me pondering what I would expect from an energy employer at this time of great change to consider them worthy of this accolade.  

What does it mean for people to be truly at the heart of a business? One interpretation could be that the wellbeing of staff is paramount and takes precedence above other concerns. Credit where its due, on this interpretation I think Xodus does a really good job. On top of weekly wellbeing checks that let the company anonymously gauge the collective mood oemployees, my manager frequently checks in to see first how I am and then how I’m getting on with my various tasks. More importantly, I feel that my answer to the first question matters. If things aren’t going well and it’s affecting my work, then rather than facing chastisement or blame, I am met with understanding and a discussion about what we collectively can do to deliver a project and help me feel better. This atmosphere of support has made me a better employee and a better teammate – it’s easy to support others when you know that they have your back too. And, from what I’ve seen, it seems that this culture is prevalent throughout the business. 

Another interpretation of having people at the heart of your business is considering the needs of employees alongside those of the business and considering your employees development to be central to your own. As someone early in her career, I look for employers that are going to support me in developing skills and knowledge that will serve me further down the line. I want to know that as the business landscape changes, I’m going to be well-equipped to adapt to these changes and to still have something valuable to offer.  

On this interpretation, I wasn’t really sure how Xodus as a whole faresThe energy transition is paradigmatic of a changing business landscape and as a member of the Renewables team, it’s pretty clear to me how the work I’m doing is relevant to a future where renewable energy is on the up and upBut what about the much larger part of the business whose day to day is still focused on oil and gas? Did they feel that they were learning skills that would cease to be relevant within their working lifetimes as fossil fuels are removed from the energy mix? Or did they feel that they were being well-equipped to transition alongside the energy sector? 

So, I asked around. On the plus side, the young engineers I spoke to seemed pretty clear that their backgrounds in mechanical, structural, or chemical engineering and the skills they are developing would continue to be relevant. Particularly if hydrogen takes off as an energy vector, where many of the skills and knowledge from natural gas are directly transferable. Older engineers, however, seemed less certain. It’s well known that skills developed in oil and gas are transferable to, say, offshore wind. But it’s not necessarily known exactly which skills these are or which roles in particular are able to make the jump with ease. I guess this makes sense. The higher up the career ladder you are, the more specialised you’re likely to be, and the harder it might be to transition. This is an issue I know many of our clients are also facing; a willingness to participate in the energy transition, but also an uncertainty around how exactly to do so.  

I think addressing this uncertainty is going to be key for energy companies that want to be considered exemplary employers going forwardAs the landscape changes, businesses will have to change with it and its crucial that any strategy includes consideration of how to bring the workforce along for the ride. I’m not saying this is easy. It requires mapping out current skills, identifying areas of weakness and strength, and targeting support to those most in need. Plus, it requires clear communication throughout of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, how it’s going to be done, and how, as individuals, employees are going to be supported to do itGet it wrong, and you’ll fail to be exemplary. Get it right, and not only will you have a happy and more productive workforce, they might even give you an award.  

Similar Articles

Interested in talking to the experts? Enter your details below to arrange a meeting.

    Contact Us

    Contact Form