Better Housing, Better Quality of Life: Housing as a Recruitment Strategy
by Troy Schrenk
It’s a fact: the number of skilled workers is shrinking. North American oil, gas, mining and construction operations are facing unprecedented labor shortages. Part of this due to the growing number of retiring Baby Boomers. Newer workers are more reluctant to take jobs that require them to live in poor conditions on remote sites. How can companies compete for these valuable employees and reduce turnover?
The Dwindling Talent Pool
Our white paper, Workforce Housing as a Recruitment and Retention Strategy in Oil, Gas, Mining and Construction Operations: The Other 12 Hours, lays out the labor statistics. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a need for 78,000 replacement workers in the mining industry due to worker retirement, and a total of 128,000 new positions by 2019; the shortage could be serious enough to force more reliance on foreign suppliers of raw materials. And, in an international survey of 10,000 mining respondents, 35% viewed skill shortages in the North American workforce as a major concern.
Solving Workforce Shortages
To addresses this looming shortage, companies that want to remain competitive consider a variety of recruitment tactics:
- Keeping Baby Boomers in the workforce longer through talent management programs.
- Engaging contractors and international workers.
- Reaching out to underutilized workers, such as women and underrepresented minority populations.
- Attracting younger workers in the Millennial demographic, and investing in their skills.
All of these methods face a larger truth: In order for these strategies to work, companies need to invest in workforce housing that goes beyond the bare minimum of shelter, especially when it comes to critical projects on remote sites.
The Other 12 Hours: A Strategy for Recruiting the Best Workers
Cobbled-together housing solutions that rely on overpriced motels, RVs, and fast food simply won’t attract the valuable skilled employees that new projects need. Attractive housing needs to be a strong element of any recruitment effort. Workers today are less and less willing to accept rough or inadequate housing in harsh locations that take them away from their home and loved ones.
In remote locations with limited housing options and infrastructure, these sites must provide a quality of life that addresses the time that workers spend off shift. Target Lodging refers to “the other 12 hours” and uses this philosophy as the backbone of superior workforce housing:
- Nutritious, high-quality food.
- Comfortable rooms and bedding.
- Recreation and fitness amenities, including Internet access and HD televisions.
- Convenient locations with shorter commutes.
- An overall atmosphere that creates a positive, morale-building environment.
…and retaining them.
Retention is the flip side of the coin and is just as critical. Investing in workers’ experience and skills, only to see them jump to another employer because of better food and lodging, is a real loss. High turnover rates create headaches and delays, while increasing project risk. Employers need to focus on strategies that keep workers on for the long haul, allowing them to build valuable skills and put them to use.
As the labor market for skilled employees grows tighter, smart companies need to face the new reality. Employee turnover, employee shortages or having to take on lesser-skilled workers all drain time and money, and substantially increase risk. Finding and keeping the best employees for remote sites begins with better accommodations.