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Small changes create big impact through marginal gains


What do Olympic athletes and a North Sea recruitment agency have in common? Marginal gains.

Cycling and oil and gas recruitment lack similarity, but they both have a shared drive to find improvements and efficiency.

In 2002, Sir Dave Brailsford became head of the British cycling team, which had almost no record of any success. Fast forward to 2008, and the team won seven out of 10 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

But this dramatic improvement wasn’t due to dramatic changes. It was due to something much smaller. In 2012 Sir Dave Brailsford explained the idea of marginal gains to the BBC. He said:

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of, that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by one per cent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

Marginals gains for recruitment

Marginal gains are small incremental improvements in any process, which, when added together, make a significant improvement – or cost saving. But how is this relevant to flexible oil and gas recruitment?

“By applying this theory and improving the overall recruitment process by one per cent, we estimate that the industry can save £24 million on personnel per annum. The potential is huge. The more marginal gains and improvements we can make, the greater the cost saving.” explains Jordan Rowson, Business Development Lead for Energy Resourcing in the UK.

In 2019, it was reported that the oil and gas industry spends on average £2.4 billion every year on personnel offshore. While this cost will now be less due to industry challenges, such as COVID-19 and slower global energy demand, essential personnel are still required offshore.

This means recruitment is obligatory, but with the added pressure to find additional savings due to the current climate.

Recruitment for the 21st century

When the average cost of hiring an employee is £3,000, including job sourcing, background checks, marketing, and recruitment staff, it’s vital that companies don’t underestimate these costs.

“For offshore personnel, there are even more costs associated with recruitment and mobilisation – accommodation, trade tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), sometimes training – the list goes on,” says Ruth Cameron, Regional Director of Energy Resourcing UK.

“There’s mass opportunity to change the way things are done, particularly because offshore recruitment has remained largely unchanged over the years. We wanted to bring it into the 21st century and make things more streamlined,” she adds.

Energy Resourcing is a recruitment agency that supplies offshore personnel to its customers across the North Sea. Candidates are matched to specific training and competency matrixes, ensuring individuals are trained and competent to do their job.

“We challenged inefficiencies, and searched for marginal gains, when looking at offshore personnel. One area that stuck out was non-productive time, which is common. This includes inductions, asset familiarity, team integration, mobilisation of underqualified personnel, lost time sourcing.

“We looked closer at non-productive time to find one per cent – or more – improvements. Being an agency, there is only so much that we can control, but one area that we can improve upon is when personnel are sent offshore without the skills to do the job,” comments Rowson.

As a result, and to make that one per cent improvement, before mobilising all Energy Resourcing personnel are extensively screened and assessed to ensure they are compliant to complete the job scope.

One North Sea based operator agreed that 100 per cent of all personnel supplied by Energy Resourcing met the desired quality and were suitable to return to their asset.


Consolidating costs for uber gains

Furthermore, marginal gains are about more than one improvement – they’re about many. In Energy Resourcing’s case, this meant going beyond fixing inefficiencies; it required new and innovative ways of working.

Leveraging the success of app-based technologies, Energy Resourcing introduced a gig economy model for ad hoc offshore labour supply.

According to the BBC, the gig economy is a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs. This is especially true for oil and gas jobs where marginal gains are of high importance on offshore projects.

“Gig economy became popular off the back of Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit. A lot of offshore-based contractors prefer it because it provides flexibility. However, for operators and service providers, this can feel like an added administrative burden. There’s also a risk of hiring personnel who are not capable of doing the job  – and that’s where we come in,” says Rowson.

Working to a gig economy model, Rowson now sees this as the future as it has added cost benefits for customers. This recruitment strategy can be supported by using a recruitment agency, like Energy Resourcing. We consolidate costs. This means we can offer a better rate, which is passed back to our customers,” he says.

Gig savings and global plans

The comprehensive gig recruitment rate includes resourcing, PPE, screening for capability and competence, trades tests, accommodation, logistics, payroll. Specialists deal with each of these areas in high volume, making it easy to find marginal gains that can be passed back to customers as cost savings.

By looking for marginal gains and implementing the gig economy model when recruiting offshore personnel, Energy Resourcing’s customers have reported up to a 30 per cent saving compared with their previous labour supply provider.

This recruitment model has been successful in delivering efficiency and cost savings for Energy Resourcing’s North Sea customers. With these savings in mind, there are now plans for expansion into new locations where a vast labour supply is required, including North America and Norway.


Look ahead with Energy Resourcing

At Energy Resourcing, we keep our finger on the pulse of the changing market, allowing us to fill your open roles with the best talent in oil and gas.

Find out how Energy Resourcing can revolutionise your ad hoc labour supply through gig economy and marginal gains by contacting us today.

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