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HR Challenges in Renewable Energy Sector & Ways to Overcome Them

In the last four years, solar wind and hydropower projects have developed at their fastest rate because the renewable energy industry is developing rapidly. Renewable power capacity is expected to expand by 50% between 2019 & 2024, and by that point, the world’s solar capacity could grow by 600GW.

Over the following five years, renewable energy is anticipated to grow by 1200GW. To support this growth, HR plays a necessary role, especially in talent management and workforce planning. But there are many challenges that the HR faces in the energy sector specifically. On the brighter side, there are many ways to overcome them as well.

Among the fundamental challenges that the energy faces, two are most common:

Aging workforce in highly-skilled segments

In an organization’s talent cluster, the highly skilled employees are mostly aged or are reaching their retirement age. The energy sector particularly as a whole has not failed to recruit or keep human capital of younger age to assure best bench strength, nor they have been able to attract the Gen-Zs or Millennials.

Scarcity of talent in leadership positions

There has been a tectonic shift in the jobs of the energy sector. Within the specific sectors – for example, deployment of renewable forms of energy is enabling local job creation in traditional regions where new installations are being built and maintained each year. But, due to scarcity or unavailability of talented people in the managerial segment, it is causing a disorder.

The energy sector has more such important challenges in the HR which are mentioned below:

Recruiting the right people for the right job:

For HR everywhere, it is difficult to attract right candidates to fill the vacant positions, which is why it’s important to put significant time and effort into the recruitment process. As energy sector is primarily a field-based industry, jobs in this sector need a wide range of qualifications and skills, as well as the ability to think holistically when identifying sustainable solutions for the future.

Workforce retention

Recruiting the right candidates doesn’t solve the problems for HR in energy sector. Once you’ve got a talented, motivated employee who is right for a particular job, there is still this obstacle of retaining that employee forever. This is often a surprisingly high percentage – if pay has increased and worker is happy within the industry with his work and his co-workers. This retention model includes transparent compensation, maternity/paternity leave, holiday stipends, and open doors to flexible working. Besides industry-specific expertise, environmentally friendly power companies also have to expand their nets to enlist technology skills.

Maintaining a distinctive workforce:

For the energy sector to flourish, heterogeneity is the key. With advancements in tech and innovation, the sector anticipates immense changes that will increase the gap in skills set, primarily why organizations should make themselves more appealing to all or any up-and-comers. As per a recent study by BCG, organizations’ leadership teams reported an increase by 45% in tech and innovation revenue that had an above-average diversity scores. This is better as compared to organizations with below-average diversity scores (26%). Moreover, currently the HR in energy sector is performing badly in terms of diversity in gender and ethnicity – making it one of the biggest challenges.

Ways to overcome these challenges are:

Renewing the existing HR strategies

Energy sector’s manpower capacity and capabilities to support the continued growth needs new-age HR strategies. The questions that the HR should be asking themselves is: Are we hiring new-age employees and how is the employees’ experience? “Is our current structure and team size of HR supporting the changed business landscape? as latest skills and capabilities are required to succeed in a new environmental sector, the same is true for mind-sets and behaviors of the workforce. For example, day to day capabilities of leaders must continue to evolve as the renewable power sector becomes more like manufacturing industries, with a focus on efficiency and continuous improvement. Thus, this calls for a cultural and organisational shift towards younger front-line supervisors and cross functional team leaders, without compromising on the quality delivered.

Creating a diversified work culture and environment

HR teams in energy sector can only achieve diversity if they create a comprehensive work culture and environment. The energy industry needs to perform better gender and ethnicity diversification. For example, in oil and gas sector, women only account for 1/5th of the workforce. So, the organizations can bring a positive change by keeping these points in mind:

a. By making sure that the job descriptions (JDs) use language that appeals to both genders and are free of unintentional biases.

b. By gathering feedback from employees on their career growth to ensure nobody feels overlooked for promotion at any point of time. (As per McKinsey research, it shows that women are almost three times more likely than men to feel that they were overlooked for promotions or pay rises).

Training & developing skill-sets of employees

As per the 2019 GETI report, 77% of renewable energy professionals wish to move to a different industry. This came in as a shock as this has increased by 43% as compared to previous year. This can be solved by introducing apprenticeship schemes to train and up skill the existing employees. Also, this will help to bridge the gap and create a more powerful workforce. Moreover, it will help in attracting better employees, as candidates might be missing skills when they initially join your workforce. An organization must possess the capacity to help the employees develop these skills, as it is a crucial step – which is where training and apprenticeship schemes can really help.

Once the energy sector organizations realize these challenges and work on them persistently, then they will be able to overcome them surely. And we hope these important challenges were a wakeup call for your green sector and that you were able to overcome them effortlessly.

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