What Makes Them Stay and Go?: Best Practices for Engaging Gen Y Female Professionals in the Critical Arabian Gulf Petroleum Industry

What Makes Them Stay and Go?: Best Practices for Engaging Gen Y Female Professionals in the Critical Arabian Gulf Petroleum Industry

Hwee Ling Lim (The Petroleum Institute, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8183-5.ch021
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Abstract

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) petroleum industry harnesses resources to produce hydrocarbon products in a cost-effective manner. Besides developing new technologies, companies need technical professionals knowledgeable in materials science and engineering for ensuring integrity of critical production facilities and corrosion management. Companies also need non-technical operations personnel to support production and business activities. Their recruitment efforts transpire in a multi-generational labour market complicated by under-utilization of Generation/Gen Y females. This chapter presents findings from a recent study that investigated gender differences in life priorities and work preferences of Gen Y in UAE petroleum industry. In the study, 150 professionals were surveyed on their views of life priorities and work preferences. The findings in this chapter show that Conservation and Self-transcendence were most important life dimensions with intrinsic and extrinsic work motivators most valued. Changes in the importance of specific motivators, by each gender, in recruitment were found compared with retention. Finally, the chapter provides recommendations for recruitment and retention that would help personnel managers develop initiatives that cater to the specific requirements of each gender.
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Introduction

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) petroleum industry harnesses all possible resources to produce hydrocarbon products in a cost-effective manner and meet consumer expectations. In this endeavour, companies in the energy sector strive to develop new exploration/production technologies and processes. Besides technological advancements, companies need technical professionals knowledgeable in materials science and engineering for ensuring the integrity of critical production facilities and corrosion management that ultimately impact operating costs and business competitiveness. Non-technical operations personnel are also essential to support production of valuable petrochemical products and other business activities. However, companies face the challenge of having to secure the most talented professionals in a highly competitive labour market resulting from the big crew change phenomenon which refers to the retirement of the older workers and the entry of the younger Generation (Gen) Y (born 1980-1999) into the country’s workforce.

The UAE labour force, particularly in the petroleum industry, is male dominated but corporations have recently awakened to the potential of an untapped human capital source – young women professionals. However, the successful encouragement of female participation in the workforce requires energy companies to understand what motivates them in their spheres of life and work, so as to re-orientate existing corporate policies towards the needs of women professionals. Yet, there is a scarcity of research on Gen Y in the UAE or studies that examined career issues vital to female Gen Y professionals in the important oil-rich Arabian Gulf region. This chapter reported a recent project that investigated gender differences in the life priorities and work preferences of Gen Y professionals in the UAE petroleum industry. The findings highlighted the personal career concerns of female engineering and administrative professionals that are important for personnel managers to understand when developing recruitment and retention policies that would attract the young workforce to the critical energy industry and help sustain the nation’s economic growth.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Motivation: Forces acting on or within an individual that determine his behaviour.

Work Preferences: The beliefs or motivators that determine employee job behaviour and choices.

Values: The desirable objects, goals, or behaviors applied as normative standards to judge and to choose among alternative actions by individual.

Emiratization: An affirmative action quota-driven labour regulation policy aimed at creating jobs for United Arab Emirates citizens.

Content Analysis: An analytical technique for making inferences by systematically and objectively examining artifacts of social communication particularly from written documents or transcripts of verbal communication.

Life Priorities: Guiding principles in life by which individuals assess the importance of personal values.

Materials Science and Engineering: It is the generation and application of knowledge relating to the composition, structure, and processing of materials to their properties and uses.

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