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Friday AM May 8th, 2009

A survey by an oil and gas industry search firm indicates companies are finding other ways to cut costs besides workforce reductions. Ed Mayberry reports.


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Maxwell Drummond’s annual energy survey indicates that executives have learned the importance of retaining skilled and professional labor in order to be prepared for the next uptick in demand.  Energy companies have been through price volatility before.  Despite some layoffs, many companies now see employees as assets that must be maintained as they position themselves for global recovery.  Joy Brown is with Maxwell Drummond’s Houston office. 

“We finally learned from out past mistakes in not immediately cutting workforce.  I mean, this is how we created this big gap that we’ve got currently in experience in the energy industry.  So, yes, people are holding on to talent.  They’re looking to other things such as non-personnel cost reductions, putting projects on hold, instead of immediately having a reduction of workforce.  So we’re seeing that layoffs are not trending the same in Houston as they are on a national average.”

Because of the economy, many in the industry who had planned to retire by now are working for a few more years.  That creates a window of opportunity for improving knowledge transfer practices. 

“And you’re absolutely right, I mean, we are holding on to people a bit longer, since their 401(k)s don’t look the same as they did not too long ago.  So this does give us the opportunity to use the knowledge that these people have and transfer it to some of the less-experienced workforce that’s coming into the energy industry and hold on to people.  And the conversations that I’ve had over the past few months with senior management in the energy industry here in Houston is such that they don’t want to be behind the eight ball when they know it’s going to come back, it’s going to spring like a rubber band.”

Maxwell Drummond is an international executive search firm based in London, with offices in Houston and six other cities. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.