By Julie Harrison

WITH industry focus rapidly moving from major capital project to operator phase, competition for experienced operational leaders and specialists is hotting up.

Becoming the operator of choice will be increasingly critical to acquiring and keeping the talent needed to help organisations deliver.

The evolution from project delivery “at any cost” to operational excellence, and becoming an operator of choice is complex, and is compounded by a constantly shifting and evolving operating environment.

It requires a fine balance across leadership, innovation, organisational agility, a sharp productivity focus, operational excellence, cost efficiency, talent engagement and retention, and a clear employee value proposition that offers more than just money.

What will THE operator of choice look like?

An operator of choice has clarity of purpose and accountability for its key organisational functions. Critical capabilities will be defined, with a focus on the now as well as the future, and processes, systems and structures will drive efficient and effective service delivery.

Innovation will be at the heart of the organisation as it continuously looks to improve and evolve in response to a constantly changing and disruptive environment.

Leadership ranked as the top ‘Human Capital trend’ for Energy and Resources across all global regions in Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report – and a focus on leadership effectiveness will be a priority, with a strong pipeline of leaders emerging across the business, and across all geographies.

Good leaders support, enable, engage and deliver to respond flexibly to the needs of their teams who are diverse and who range in employment constructs from permanent ‘on balance sheet’ employees, to global ‘specialist problem solvers’ whose specific skills are utilised once in a blue moon.

Leaders will be agile and able to lead in uncertain times and will have a clear understanding of how to create and lead a highly effective team.

Analytics will support talent management and workforce planning which will be able to respond to rapidly changing scenarios and support key talent decisions.

As construction employees transition to their next project, effective talent management practices will maintain relationships and build a more global and flexible approach to talent.

Creating and sustaining an engaged workforce will be vital. The operator of choice will understand the critical drivers of employee engagement and will be positioned to respond to the continual choices its people make on how committed they are to their work and organisation.

Leaders will tap into talent insights driven by retention analytics and will use these to respond to the needs of different groups.

Productivity will be king. The continual drive for efficiency and effectiveness will ensure that the organisation has established a framework and mechanism for measuring, reporting and driving productivity across the organisation.

Employees – from executive to operator levels – will understand the key drivers of productivity and will know their role in working as a part of a high performing organisation.

A strong employee value proposition will also be needed that highlights the ‘millennials’ starting to take on more leadership positions.

A focus on meaningful work, with a higher order purpose is increasingly expected, and workers have a new focus on purpose, mission and work-life integration.

Employees today work more hours and are nearly continuously connected to their jobs by pervasive mobile technologies.

Flexibility, empowerment, development and mobility will all play roles in defining a company’s culture. Getting the culture right as an operator will be critical.

The value of HR

Human resources functions will be critical, and HR needs to work alongside their executive and leadership teams and really understand the business in which they work.

Reinventing HR is another key human capital trend, and strategies such as flexible employment constructs for a ‘workforce on demand’ will be critical, with HR’s role to develop better processes, policies and tools to source, evaluate and reward talent that exists outside of the traditional corporate and organisational balance sheet.

Also in our report, 50% of senior business and HR leaders saw an increase in contingent hiring over the next three to five years. This is a significant shift in business strategy, and HR needs to lead this change in collaboration with the business.

As other areas of the business will be simplifying their operations to achieve productivity gains, so should HR.

Questions for practitioners to ask include: How complex are your performance management and talent management processes? How pragmatic are your leadership programs? Finally, how effective is HR at critical decision making to support the achievement of business objectives?