No Great Resignation here! Drilling into effective HR thinking at Chevron

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan May 31, 2022
Chevron is oiling the wheels of new HR thinking in the Vaccine Economy and is very much in listening mode, according to Chief Human Resource Officer Rhonda Morris.


Contrary to popular widespread belief that the Great Resignation is happening everywhere, it's actually not happening in our company.

A strong declaration from Rhonda Morris, Chief Human Resource Officer at Chevron, running contrary to the prevailing wisdom that organizations sit in the middle of a Vaccine Economy talent management crisis. Morris explains:

We monitor our attrition data in granular detail on a quarterly basis. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, our global attrition was 3.5% and that's the lowest that it's been the last 10 years. And we look at our attrition by demographic breakdown, so by gender, by race, by ethnicity, by genre retention.

That being the case, what is Chevron doing right that others, apparently, are not? At the grand old age of 140 years+ and operating in 55 countries around the world, this is (a) a genuinely global brand and (b) an organization with considerable clout. It also has a bold HR mission statement, according to Morris:

We have a long term career employment model, which a lot of companies don't have, but our benefits are designed for employees to really spend their entire careers with a company

But any aspiration towards supporting ‘a job for life’ needs some support. Chevron completed a deployment of Workday in 2020 that meets that objective, although Morris correctly notes that organizations can’t just throw tech at a problem and assume that this solves the issue:

One of the things I've learned with digital platforms is, there will never be any platform that suits every single need that you have. So getting organizations accustomed to that is one of the takeaways I've got from our global Workday deployment.

But we have a Digital Academy. Skills building and competency development is really critical for us and our one of our biggest challenges is centralizing which platforms we use, because we're a decentralized-based organization. What happens when you have a decentralized organization structure is you have inconsistent platforms all over the world.

So we're in the process [of what will be] an aggregator of every single learning platform that we've had. It sounds like fun. Actually it's been quite a challenge, but we're trying to create almost a Netflix-like learning experience for our workforce so that when you go in and you can just do.

Morris went in and tested doing a search on a book to check out how this works in practice:

You can go in and digital versions of the books will be there. It has video content. So there are different ways that our employees learn. It's not just classroom training anymore, or computer-based training. There are all types of different learning modes and it's a system that we can keep morphing and changing and building and adding content to, improving content. This is not just to help us help drive better business outcomes, but also to feed this almost unquenchable thirst our employees have to keep building skills and learn and grow and develop.

The COVID effect

A 2020 deployment, of course, means that this played out against a backdrop of the COVID crisis. In common with other organizations, Chevron had to think about its strategy at this time, but unlike many other firms, it couldn’t just move to remote working. Morris explains:

Thirty-five percent of Chevron employees never stopped reporting to his or her workplace throughout the pandemic, because they're on ships, they're on offshore platforms, they're working in refineries, they are working in our in our terminal. So we have a large population that it doesn't even have access to hybrid working.

That plays a large part in how Chevron has approached the way the firm’s HR strategy applies to the organization as a whole. Morris says:

We always have to keep that top of mind as we communicate to the 65% of our employees who, in March of 2020, made the sharp left turn and started working remotely. We don't want to create a have and have not environment. As part of our communication strategy, we always talk about the 'essential workers' first.

And there are geographic differences to be taken into account as well. Morris explains:

We operate in 55 different countries. The experiences that remote workers have had is not the same. In Thailand, employees are not back in the office. We've had, in Australia, employees who have gone back to work and been sent back home. Same thing in Singapore. In the US, we brought our employees in our two hub locations of Houston and San Ramon back starting in February and March of this year.

But as the debate rages on about what the future of work looks like, not least in terms of the balance between remote working and the push by many legislators and business leaders to get the workforce back into offices, Chevron is in listening mode it appears. Morris says:

We survey our employees very frequently, about once a quarter, and a lot of the feedback is, 'We want more flexibility'. Most of our employees are on a three day in the office, two days remote schedule - and they're asking us a bit for a bit more. We have some groups that have two days in the office and three days at home. It's based really on what type of work the person is doing, how much collaboration and engagement is required for a specific role.

What we've learned is to address the fairness question. We really have to engage in a new and different reality. If you say to me, 'I want more flexibility', I need to understand what does that mean? [Someone] might want to take his kids to school and work early in the morning, take his kids to school and then come to the office and work from nine to two. So we're still we're still figuring this out. We're still working with our leaders to give them the skills to deal with probably one of the greatest areas they've ever had to deal with.

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