Article: Senoko Energy’s Joey Kwek on how to find, keep and develop talent in the evolving energy sector

Talent Management

Senoko Energy’s Joey Kwek on how to find, keep and develop talent in the evolving energy sector

For the evolving energy sector, driven by ongoing trends such as digitalisation and sustainability, it is imperative that companies invest in technology and try new strategies to fill the talent shortage when looking at the future of work.
Senoko Energy’s Joey Kwek on how to find, keep and develop talent in the evolving energy sector

The energy sector is going through a massive transformation.

According to the International Energy Agency, fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil, the traditional fuels for power generation – will be supplanted by renewable energy, derived from natural sources that are constantly replenished, as soon as 2026. This development is part of the collective efforts of countries to reduce carbon emissions, and also reflects the desire of consumers and corporations to be more responsible for the world we live in.

The evolution of this industry includes shaping the future of work and providing exciting opportunities for people joining the sector to embark on a truly exhilarating journey of change.

Joey Kwek, head of division, human resources and corporate services, Senoko Energy, one of Singapore's largest power generation companies (providing about one-fifth of the nation’s electricity needs), says the pandemic has also accelerated the energy transition and pushed the industry to embrace digitalisation and remote technologies in the form of robotics, automation, and machine learning, which has resulted in a demand shift for various skill sets.

The types of jobs required in the energy sector are increasingly diversifying into digital and IT spheres, and it is imperative that companies fill the talent shortage when looking at the future of work, or else it could become a roadblock, hindering progress in an era of accelerating the energy transition.

While many industries have moved seamlessly into remote working, the energy sector continues to retain much of its on-site workers due to the nature of the industry. “However, flexible working arrangements in the form of remote working are becoming increasingly important for talent retention, and the energy sector will have to adapt accordingly to ensure that we can attract the right talent,” says Kwek.

In an exclusive interaction with People  Matters, Kwek talks about the challenges of talent attraction and retention in the energy industry and what the future workplace and workforce will look like for it.

Here are the edited excerpts

What does the future of work look like in the energy sector?

The new generation of employees look for greater flexibility and mobility. Hence, there’s an increasing need for companies in the energy sector to take on a flexible approach to the talent model and tap into a broader talent ecosystem.

There is also an increasing pivot towards remote working or hybrid working model for the energy sector which will require equipping employees with new digital tools and aligning expectations across the organisation. This trend was especially prominent during the pandemic, resulting in remote working becoming the new norm. Hence, the right initiatives need to be in place to protect the well-being of employees and maintain efficiency.

There will always be a need for on-site workers in the energy sector, so leaders will have to know how to create a sense of direction around the work, energise employees and empower their teams to maintain productivity.

The new generation of employees also looks for meaning in their work and if there is an impact on what they do. For the energy sector, it is constantly innovating to produce and supply energy through sustainable means.

What are the major challenges faced by the energy sector in recruiting, retaining, and developing talent?

The energy sector can be difficult to understand for an outsider, making it less appealing for young graduates and professionals, especially in technical roles such as engineering. Jobs in our industry are often viewed as backend and not glamorous, which makes it a challenge for the industry to attract new talent.

With increasing competition for talent from other industries, the energy sector will need to invest in technology and try new strategies to overcome the challenges in talent recruitment and stay ahead of the curve. We will also need to implement initiatives to build a better understanding and appreciation of the sector to attract the right talent.

Developing existing talent through upskilling is more than just providing training. As we prepare for the future of work, it is also about transforming and growing employees by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and experience that are most valuable for their roles.

Another challenge is that the new generation of employees, now more than ever, look for what their employers represent and if this resonates with their principles and personal beliefs.

In the case of power generation companies, with environmental consciousness rising among younger employees, it is imperative that we make concerted efforts to lower carbon emissions and contribute to a cleaner and greener world.

Whether it is understanding new technologies or helping employees have a better understanding of renewables, organisational leaders will need to lay the foundation and evaluate the results to prepare themselves for the changing world of work.

What has Senoko Energy done to build a meaningful workplace culture and prepare for the future of work?

At Senoko Energy, we value a culture of openness and dynamism. We believe in teamwork and have built a strong culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration across the organisation which is also crucial in the future of work.

In addition to maintaining transparent communications with employees on the company’s business performance, successes, and challenges as part of our efforts to build meaningful workplace culture, we also ensure that leaders foster two-way dialogue through various channels.

Such initiatives will become even more crucial in maintaining regular and transparent communications as we adapt to changing scenarios. We also collect feedback through formalised channels such as engagement surveys to ensure that the voices of our employees are heard.

We have also implemented a comprehensive Talent Management Programme geared towards nurturing young talents and bridging the gap between age groups within the organisation.

Called Management Competency & Capability Programme, qualified employees are selected through a rigorous process and provided tailor-made learning programmes and development opportunities under the mentorship of our senior leaders to accelerate their growth.

Along with competitive remunerations based on merit, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and the focus on new energy solutions with an eye on the future.

During the pandemic, we actively advocated the contributions of power generation employees by highlighting their hard work and sacrifices that enabled us to have some semblance of normalcy, especially during periods of lockdown.

Lastly, we recently embarked on a cultural transformation journey aimed at preparing our employees for the future and to be part of the energy transition, which will entail significant changes in the energy sector. To thrive in the energy transition, our employees need to adopt a new mindset of taking charge, being innovative and embracing changes as opportunities for growth.

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Topics: Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Culture, #FutureOfWork

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