Two of the most difficult challenges we face in the drilling industry are hiring talented drillers and keeping those drillers onboard. We spend a great deal of time, effort and money recruiting the best talent, but then we sometimes forget that we must continue to recruit them even after they’ve joined the company. In such a niche industry, we always face the threat of having our best drillers leave to work at a competitor — or, even worse, in an entirely different industry.

So how can we address this challenge and ensure the sustainability of the workforce for years to come? Obviously, we need to retain our best talent, but how do we do that and remain competitive? In today’s column, I’ll explore how developing and communicating total rewards can help your organization prevent turnover among drillers.

What Are Total Rewards?

Put simply, total rewards make up the entire compensation and benefits package that an employee receives. The various components can include both monetary and non-monetary rewards. The importance of highlighting total rewards lies in the inherent differences in what motivates our employees. Some employees might find motivation in monetary compensation, while recognition and the ability to grow and develop a career drives others. Still other employees might be at a stage in their lives where benefits, such as medical and life insurance, outweigh other considerations.

As organizational leaders, we need to communicate total rewards to our employees — not just when we’re trying to recruit them, but consistently through their employment. We should regularly remind our employees of the value of our total rewards package, and encourage them to ask questions.

Components of Total Rewards

A total rewards package for a drilling position might include:

  • Base pay: The first, and most obvious, form of total rewards is an employee’s base, or hourly, pay. I’m sure every drilling company has had a great driller leave to work for a competitor for another $1 or $2 per hour. Doesn’t that drive you crazy? Well, it should! If we do a good job of communicating total rewards and highlight those perks that might not be offered at another company, we’re less likely to lose our best people over base pay.
  • Overtime: One of the greatest forms of income potential in our industry is overtime. Make sure your employees know exactly how valuable that is! Many other industries avoid overtime at all costs. However, in drilling, overtime pay can prove a significant part of overall annual income.
  • Per diem: Another commonality in this industry is the need to travel and work remotely. While most companies typically offer a per diem in most scenarios, you can always get creative with the amount to give your company a competitive edge.
  • Other monetary incentives and rewards: Does your company have a rewards and recognition program that provides monetary incentives for things like tenure or performance? Are drillers eligible for their own truck? Are field crews given additional allowances for things like automobiles or cell phones? What about project-based bonuses or annual pay increases? You want your employees to consider all of the various components of total rewards when they think about the overall value of their employment.
  • Employee benefits: Believe it or not, many of your employees probably don’t understand the actual cost of purchasing the best medical, dental and other insurance plans available. Break that down for them! Consider sharing with employees what the company invests annually into benefit plans to ensure that employees are taken care of.
  • Career growth and professional development: If your organization hasn’t developed a career path for your best talent, consider doing so through succession planning exercises. This will help you identify key talent for whom you’ll want to invest in professional development and training opportunities. This is not only a win for the organization, but it’s a win for the employee! It shows them that the company is invested in their long-term development and it sets the company up for success.

There are many other components out there that your organization could incorporate into your total rewards package. However, where some of the best companies fail isn’t in a lack of total rewards. It’s in not properly communicating those total rewards to employees. If your best driller doesn’t understand their total rewards package and how it compares to other companies or other industries, they will be more inclined to leave when offered a $2 per hour raise. Don’t let that hard work of recruiting go to waste — have compensation conversations with your employees early and often!