The oil and gas industry is facing unprecedented headwinds, buffeted by the intertwined forces of the COVID-19 pandemic which has sickened more than 1.2 million people across the world and killed more than 70,000, dropping oil prices, the result of drastically lower demand, and uncertainty about how much oil will keep flowing into the global markets.The industry’s workforce is caught in the crossfire, labeled “essential” employees in the United States and elsewhere but all too aware of the risks to both their livelihoods and their industry. A University of Houston survey of workers from across the industry found points of optimism – workers gave their employers overwhelmingly high marks for how they have handled the crisis, from pre-crisis planning to support for workers struggling to juggle work-life balance as schools and many businesses shut down. But the workers also reported worries about both their immediate job security and about the future of the industry as a whole.
The survey findings suggest that, despite the market turmoil, companies will need to remain tightly focused on core issues to maintain strong relationships with their workforce, relationships that will be critical when the market stabilizes. This includes continuing strong, two-way communication with employees – most employees currently say their companies have done a good job with this, but continuing lines of communication over the long haul will take conscious effort – as well as a heightened awareness of potential safety lapses as workers are distracted by concerns about the coronavirus and job security. More than ever, best practices for environmental, social and corporate governance will require providing support for the workforce and engaging in community concerns when possible.