Susan Elston, SVP Offshore & Marine UK & Ireland speaking at the 2019 Oil & Gas UK Annual Conference

Putting age inclusion at the heart of developing talent

Published on : 6/13/19
  • On 5 June 2019, Susan Elston, Sodexo’s SVP Offshore & Marine UK & Ireland, was honoured to take to the stage as a speaker at the 2019 Oil & Gas UK Annual Conference.

    With a theme of ‘An Industry in Transition’, delegates heard industry leaders and keynote speakers reflect on the people, business processes and diversification opportunities needed to unlock growth as the sector continues to emerge from one of the toughest downturns in its history.

    The agenda focused on three broad areas; energy transition, business transition and people transition.

    At the heart of the agenda was industry’s shared ambition for the future - Vision 2035 - which looks to add extend the productive life of the UK Continental Shelf and expand supply chain opportunities at home, abroad and into other sectors.

    More than 450 people attended the conference - with leading figures from industry, government, the regulators, academia and trade associations joining over the day and a half.


    The industry is changing

    Changing demographics are at the heart of the oil and gas industry’s people transition. Employees are living and working longer, which presents opportunities and obligations for age inclusive organisations. Susan’s session highlighted the importance of age inclusion.

    Scotland’s workforce has aged dramatically in the past 20 years with the number of people aged 45 to 64 having increased by 26% according to Scottish Government figures. Although employment among this group is increasing, it is not growing fast enough to meet the needs of our economy or to accommodate choice for employers and older workers.


    Sodexo’s developing the talent pipeline

    The solution lies in helping people extend their working lives. There continues to be a significant gap in understanding of the opportunities and practicalities of working in later life.

    Only 20% of companies have an age strategy at board level or are developing a business case, so miss out on the benefits of a multi-generational workforce. Age diversity encourages creativity and innovation and underpins a culturally competent workforce who understand and reflect diverse and global customers. It also helps attract and retain talent of all generations, drives engagement, and results in improved performance, service delivery and productivity.

    Susan’s presentation highlighted initiatives designed to help make this happen: 

    • Action Planning for an age inclusive workforce - designed in partnership with Age Scotland (health campaigns, manager guides, flexible working, workshops)
    • How to develop a talent pool via recruitment tactics, career pathways, leveraging apprenticeships and training
    • Championing generational diversity through an employee network to raise awareness, support and understanding of the different generational groups in the workplace 

    Not only did her session help raise awareness of age-inclusion across the industry, it really opened the debate as to how we leverage and support an ageing population.

     “I was honoured to have been asked to speak at such a prestigious industry event, with industry leaders keen to learn in order to be successful in the transition."

    Susan Elston, SVP Offshore & Marine UK & Ireland

    Facilitating further dialogue and sharing best practice

    On 23 May, Sodexo brought together senior executives from leading oil and gas companies by hosting their own session to build awareness and share best practice on how business can align their future talent pipeline to support people wishing to extend their working lives.

    Future talent pipeline eventIt was particularly relevant and well received, given that the oil and gas industry currently faces some common challenges including attracting new talent and leveraging and supporting an ageing workforce.

    Sodexo’s Susan Elston, SVP Offshore & Marine and Nathalie Brindeau, HR Director for Energy & Resources were joined by Wendy Loretto, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School, as well as Sue Adlam-Hill and Susan Gordon from Age Scotland as speakers at the event.

    Wendy Loretto, Dean of the University of Edinburgh Business School said: “We know the workforce is getting older and businesses need to take steps to address this as this group is our future talent pool. It is imperative that we avoid creating a two-tier workforce and increase the awareness of the benefits of flexible working for both the employer and the employee.”

    Nathalie Brindeau, HR Director for Sodexo’s Energy & Resources in the UK and Ireland, said: “Last year we began working with Age Scotland to help us address the age-related challenges we were coming across in our business."

    "Together, we developed an action plan that includes training programmes to equip our managers with skills to manage employees wanting to work longer and to promote flexible working options to employees of all ages. We are also implementing initiatives to support employees in areas such as financial planning and health.”

    Find out more about the event here.

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