LEIPSIC — Poet Biorefining of Leipsic and Husky Lima Refinery are in two very different positions when it comes to future workforce needs.
While they are both energy companies, the age of their workforce contrasts greatly.
At Poet, nearly half of all employees are Millennials who are in the early stages of their career. At Husky, many workers are Baby Boomers who are starting to retire.
“The refinery is very much in the midst of a workforce transition, with an increasing number of Baby Boomer retirements,” said Mel Duvall, media and issues manager at Husky Energy.
To meet the needs of a new generation of workers, Duvall said Husky is altering its orientation training programs to become more hands-on, interactive and visual. The company is also using its retirees to help train new workers.
During a workforce turnaround this past spring, a number of retirees returned to the refinery to work side by side with Millennial employees.
“This was very effective with retirees able to share their years of experience and first-hand knowledge in complex turnarounds,” Duvall said.
With a strong Millennial presence, Poet isn’t as worried about a workforce transition.
“It’s not going to affect us as much as an organization, partly because we are a newer company,” said Ken Miceli, general manager of Poet Leipsic.
Poet has existed in Leipsic for only eight years, and the company as a whole wasn’t established until 1986. Miceli said this may be one of the reasons the workforce is so young.
“Baby Boomers tend to be more loyal to a company and stay at their job, so I think that plays into why we don’t have as many of them, since we’re such a new company,” he said.
Although Poet has already established a strong Millennial presence, Miceli said they are still trying to make the company attractive to young workers.
In 2015, Poet’s Leipsic facility added a fitness center. In fact, all Poet facilities across the country are equipped with a fitness center.
“Three years ago, they weren’t in any of our facilities,” he said.
Miceli said he believes Millennials tend to live healthier lifestyles, so having a fitness center is a perk that many young workers seem to enjoy.
The company also recognizes the importance of social media when it comes to attracting Millennials. Poet uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to pass along its message and to attract young talent. The company has even launched a social media campaign it calls “Never Satisfied.”
The campaign allows students to post YouTube videos where they describe why they are never satisfied and what their passion is in life. Once the videos are posted, students ate eligible to receive college scholarships of up to $5,000.
With an emphasis on recruiting Millennial workers, Miceli said Poet’s main concern is looking to the future.
“I think my team is probably more dependent on looking forward,” he said. “We’re trying to embrace the new generation.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.