Taking the pulse of America workers

How current challenges are affecting the attitudes and experiences of workers in the energy industry

Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell

Managing Director, Human Capital Advisory, KPMG US

+1 917-488-1391

How are current challenges affecting the attitudes and experiences of workers in the energy industry? With the American Workers Survey, KPMG explored that question. We found that energy workers’ attitudes are generally in line with all American workers surveyed: They have had a relatively positive experience, but still feel the mental health strains of working in the new reality.

Overall satisfaction

Most energy respondents (85 percent) reported satisfaction with their organization’s response to COVID-19, with 86 percent indicating that their employer acted quickly to create a safe working environment for everyone and 88 percent saying their organization effectively communicated about updates and changes to the business.

Feeling supported

Nearly nine in ten told us that their organization provided resources (88%) and technologies (86 percent) they needed to be successful with virtual work. Perhaps as a result, three-quarters of energy workers (76 percent) say their commitment to their organization and their desire to stay there has increased. The same proportion told us that their employer made them feel like a valued employee.

Energy workers also reported that the quality of their work has improved (75 percent) and their productivity has increased (67 percent) in the four months leading up to this survey. A similar proportion reported an increase in their level of satisfaction with the work they produce or do (71 percent) and their work/life balance (68 percent).

Feeling strained, too

In their own way, energy workers are still feeling the strains of virtual work—even if they are less likely than other American workers to indicate that the demands of their jobs have increased. Indeed, 71 percent of energy workers said they’ve faced greater demands versus 77 percent of other American workers surveyed.

About half of energy workers (48 percent) told us that their mental health decreased over the four months leading up to the survey. When we asked what their organization did to provide mental health support, less than half reported that their organization has done the following:

  • Provided flexible work schedules to meet non-work needs (46 percent)
  • Encouraged employees to focus on their mental health (40 percent)
  • Encouraged employees to take paid time off (38 percent)
  • Asked how employees feel via a survey (36 percent)
  • Provided resources developed by the organization (34 percent)
  • Provided access to mental health professionals (34 percent).

Compared to other American workers surveyed, energy employees were also less likely to say that their organization has offered sabbaticals or other paid leave (12 percent versus 17 percent) or childcare support (11 percent versus 15 percent).

Flipping the switch on culture

Compared to American workers in other industries, energy employees are more likely to say their organization’s culture (40 percent versus 32 percent) and their team’s ability to collaborate (39 percent versus 32 percent) have gotten worse in recent months. At the same time, 41 percent said their happiness at work has worsened, with a third (33 percent) telling us their relationships with coworkers have also paid a price.

And while 77 percent of energy workers believe their organization is invested in them, nearly half (46 percent) reported that they’re spending less time on professional learning and development. Among those who have undergone training, the most popular topics were timely:

  • Using new technologies to work virtually (53 percent)
  • Using new technologies to adapt to the future of work (42 percent)
  • How to lead virtual meetings (33 percent)
  • Leadership in a virtual environment (28 percent).

A comparatively small proportion of energy workers told us they have been trained on empathy and listening because of COVID-19 (25 percent versus 34 percent among other American workers surveyed).

Social commitment

Energy workers report being largely satisfied with their organization’s response to recent social and political issues. Three in four (77 percent) believe their organization wants to positively address workplace inequality. Yet less than half indicated that their employer has taken these specific actions:

  • Made a commitment to address inequality in my organization (39 percent)
  • Encouraged conversation surrounding inequality (38 percent)
  • Provided resources on how to educate themselves on inequality (29 percent)
  • Matched employee donations to organizations fighting racial inequality (16 percent).

Reopening trust

As organizations prepare to return to the physical workspace, 88 percent of energy workers trust their organization will do whatever it takes to ensure employee safety. Among energy workers who can return to an office or physical location, 84 percent are satisfied with their organization’s plan for doing so.

About the research

KPMG fielded an online survey of 2,500 employed (full-time and part-time) Americans. Of the 2,500 sampled, 1,000 respondents came from natural fallout while the remaining 1,500 consisted of an over-sample of five industries (250 each): healthcare and life sciences, retail, energy, financial services, TMT, and government. The survey was fielded between July 2, 2020 and July 13, 2020. The margin of error for the energy worker sample at a 95 percent confidence level is +/- 5.7.

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Contact us

Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell

Managing Director, Human Capital Advisory, KPMG US

+1 917-488-1391
Angie Gildea

Angie Gildea

National Sector Leader – Energy, Natural Resources and Chemicals, KPMG in the US

+1 713-319-2295