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Energy Companies: How to Attract Gen Z Talent

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos has set the agenda to accelerate the green transition, with over 120 countries committing to expanding renewable energy usage as a significant step towards combating climate change. However, this surge in renewable projects demands a corresponding increase in skilled professionals, a challenge the energy sector is struggling to address. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has underscored the urgency of this situation, estimating that 30 million green jobs are required to meet the targets to cap global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  
So, can the next generation of talent be the answer to help energy companies navigate the green transition? According to Deloitte, Gen Z is expected to account for 27% of the global workforce by 2025. The numbers are there for all to see, but what’s different about this generation is these are people who have grown up in the era of global warming. Among most of Gen Z, there is real awareness of the urgency of the planet’s situation. And most importantly of all? Many of these are professionals who are eager to do what they can to help mitigate the damage to our planet. 

Here comes the “but”… The majority of the more traditional energy companies don’t have strong reputations amongst Gen Z. Indeed, 62% of all the Gen Z respondents to a large-scale study by EY said they consider a career in Oil and Gas “unappealing”, whereby 66% said they found the prospect of a green job “appealing”. Therefore, for renewable energy companies, attracting Gen Z talent shouldn’t be too challenging. However, for traditional energy companies looking to fill their talent gaps, there is a problem – that is, how to attract Gen Z talent? Not only for their own green transitions, but also to do the work still required to harness less-green energy sources which are still vital for powering a lot of the world today. These companies can still market themselves as attractive options for Gen Z talent, but only if they can evolve their EVPs and hiring processes to resonate with Gen Z professionals

Build an EVP for Attracting Gen Z Talent

Though it might sound obvious, energy companies looking to effectively attract and retain Gen Z professionals should tailor their EVPs to specifically align with Gen Z priorities when considering an employer. So, let’s look at what those priorities are: 

1. Work-life balance and flexibility 

Gen Z value a healthy balance between work and personal life. They seek employers who offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options and flexible hours. In fact, almost half (48.2%) of all Gen Z respondents to the Hays Salary Guide surveys across the EMEA region chose "Flexible Working” as the benefit they value most when choosing a job. Gen Z professionals are characterised by their holistic view of life - they don’t want to ‘live to work’. Therefore, energy organisations that prioritise work-life balance and employee wellbeing will always resonate well with this generation.  
SmartestEnergy, for example, has implemented the 4-day work week, which has helped companies across sectors increase productivity as well as employee satisfaction while reducing work stress. Though this is an initiative in heated debate across much of the world of work, the SmartestEnergy example shows a blueprint for its success in the energy sector. 

2. Purpose-driven work 

Gen Z want to make a positive impact. They gravitate toward employers whose missions align with their values, and they don’t hesitate to turn down offers from companies which they don’t perceive to have true ESG commitments. 
What does this mean for traditional energy companies? 
Organisations transitioning to green energies should emphasise social responsibility, sustainability, and community engagement when reaching out to young candidates. This can make Gen Z professionals feel like they’re actively solving the world’s wrongs by working at an energy company. In turn, they will feel more satisfied with their jobs, and energy companies can evolve their reputations from “the old company where my parents work” to “the company that’s helping to make the world healthier.” 
Apache Corporation, for example, has a solid strategy around social responsibility and awareness that includes visiting areas where there’s a lack of access to adequate energy sources or planting trees in endangered ecosystems. These actions foster a sense of purpose for employees and show the company’s alignment with sustainability. At the same time, they open the door for Gen Z candidates looking for organisations doing meaningful work to stop climate change and improve social wellbeing. 

3. Paths for innovation and career progression 

Generally speaking, Gen Z is tech-savvy and thrives on innovation. These are people seeking workplaces that encourage creativity, experimentation, and continuous learning. Therefore, for attracting Gen Z talent energy companies that can provide real growth opportunities, mentorship, and clear career paths can really stand out. 
Gen Z professionals can be seen to have a different perception of time, given that they were born already in the era of digitalisation and the internet, which has shaped their outlook on the world of work. Accelerating energy workers’ careers can help retain valuable young talent that would otherwise be job hopping. Those success stories can then be shared across social media and other digital channels so that potential new hires can imagine the same progression for them.  
Digital advancements and the implementation of disruptive technologies such as AI or ML can become powerful sources of attraction for digitally native Gen Z. Energy organisations should offer ‘more than a job’ and foster a thriving environment in which Gen Z can learn new skills and stay on top of the latest innovations in the energy sector, one that keeps evolving as the industry undergoes the green transition. 

Attracting Gen Z talent, moving forward

It’s clear that Gen Z have both the passion and the commitment to help the energy sector meet green targets. But for attracting Gen Z talent, hiring organisations need to understand what this generation expects at work


Roxanne Friedrichs 
Strategic Client Manager, EMEA 
Roxanne Friedrichs has a Master’s Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology. She started at Hays 5 years ago, originally specialising in the Digital Technology and Engineering sector at Hays Germany, before moving to Hays Spain as National Technology Business Manager. She is now a Strategic Client Manager for the EMEA region, designing and developing workforce projects in the Renewable Energy and Financial Services sectors. In this role, she implements global client strategies and enables Hays business across cultures and borders in EMEA.