McKinsey: The future of HR in oil and gas



Three disruptions that are redefining the role of HR in oil and gas

During the last decade, the oil and gas industry experienced a sense of resource scarcity, leading to high oil prices for most of the period. Combined with globalization, this led to a global “war for talent” and the creation of centralized technical functions that could deploy scarce talent around the globe. The move toward centralization accelerated with the increased focus on risk and compliance prompted by the Texas City and Macondo incidents. In a system of centralized decision making, change requires clear mandates from the top, typically through leadership-driven change programs.

However, three fundamental changes are disrupting the oil and gas industry, with significant implications for industry players:

  • Resource abundance and the need to be prepared for a sustained period of lower oil prices and a focus on cost, efficiency, and speed. Traditional talent is no longer scarce, exploration capability is less of a differentiator, megaprojects are not the only way to grow, and market opportunities may only be economical for the earliest movers in a basin. Meanwhile, conventional, deepwater, unconventional, and renewable assets each require a distinct operating model that cannot be delivered optimally from a single corporate center.
  • Profound technological advances are disrupting the old ways of working and enabling step changes in productivity. Automation is replacing workers (including knowledge workers) on a large scale, and the jobs that remain require increased human-machine interaction. As more devices connect to the cloud, data generation continues to grow exponentially. This explosion of data—combined with advanced analytics and machine-learning tools—lets companies fundamentally reimagine how and where work gets done.
  • Demographic shifts mean that employees are demanding changes in the working environment and expressing concerns about the role of oil and gas companies in society. Millennials will soon constitute the majority of the workforce in developed markets, and have already started their climb into management and executive roles. These digital natives bring their own expectations regarding technology, collaboration, pace, and accountability. At the same time, a well-educated, globally competitive talent base has grown rapidly in emerging markets.

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