The global COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid drop in oil prices have combined to create unprecedented challenges for the energy industry.

A University of Houston Energy-led survey found that workers give their employers high marks for how they have handled the crisis but are far less optimistic about their job security and the future of the industry as a whole. Further gender and ethnic analysis also shows that women in energy are also impacted more than male counterparts.

UH Energy worked with Pink Petro, among other industry groups, to gather data from a cross section of energy workers. Data was collected from 408 energy workers via an online survey between March 25 and April 1. On average, participants had 16 years of work experience in the industry; 83% worked in the oil and gas sectors, with the remainder split between alternative energy and the power and utility sectors.

A summary of the overall findings found that:

53% said they felt insecure about their jobs due to the pandemic; 39% said they worried about paying their mortgage and other bills during the coming year.

46% said they are optimistic about the industry’s future; researchers said age or years of experience did not affect that, although people with children at home were slightly less likely to be optimistic about the industry.

83% of workers said their company had provided “fast and efficient technology” for working remotely. 71% said their supervisor worked effectively with employees to resolve conflicts between work and family life due to COVID-19.

37% reported that concern about the virus were affecting their sleep. That was especially true for people whose workload has increased due to the virus; people who struggled more with conflicts between work and family responsibilities and those worried about job security also reported problems sleeping. Poor sleep carries implications for workplace safety.

Pink Petro and the University of Houston’s Institute for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies also looked at provided answers that affect women and energy workers of color during the current crisis. The analysis found that:

Women in energy are more likely to experience work-family conflict during the COVID-19 crisis than men, but both women and men experience work-family conflict.

Women were less likely to report having access to employer provided backup care for childcare during COVID-19 than men.

Women in energy are more likely to experience stress that affects their ability to focus at work than men.

Hispanic and Asian American energy workers experienced significantly higher levels of work-family interface stress than their white and African American counterparts.

Asian Americans are much more significantly affected by travel restrictions than all other groups, and indicate to a larger extent that travel restrictions limit their ability to see loved ones and their ability to manage their personal and life issues.

Asian Americans report higher overall levels of stress than energy workers from other groups due to COVID-19.

“Building a sustainable, diverse and inclusive workforce is more important now than ever in a crisis. I am optimistic. We need to learn as much as we can from COVID-19 and this study provides recommendations for companies and leaders as they navigate this new normal, ” says Katie Mehnert, CEO of Pink Petro.

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