How to Attract and Retain Talent


How to Attract and Retain Talent
© A Stefanovska

The lubricants industry is navigating its fair share of obstacles right now. One of the most surmountable—but perhaps less talked about—challenges is talent attraction and personnel retention.  

The lubricants, additives and base oils industry is facing a number of challenges that will affect the course of the industry now and into the future, including meeting sustainability targets, turning profit in an ever-changing business environment and operating within the confines of stringent regulatory requirements. Furthermore, the industry certainly has not been immune from the devastating and long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine as well as rising energy costs, inflation and interest rates.  

Fortunately, there is an answer to help the industry solve these challenges: people.  

People can turn challenges into opportunities, as high-performing teams deliver the growth and strategic goals companies set out to accomplish.  

So how can the lubricants industry retain and develop the great talents it already has? And how can it attract new talent to the sector, enabling businesses not just to survive but also to thrive? 

This article will outline an easy-to-implement four-point plan (mindset; mission, vision and values; leadership; and widening the talent pool). These four points will allow companies to obtain a high-performance culture that attracts and retains quality personnel.  


Understandably, people can feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious during or after experiencing a tough time. In these situations, mindset is critical.  

Mindset impacts how you interpret, act and react to situations. It is a key contributing factor to success or failure in work and in life. Whatever your role and responsibility level, you can control and influence how you react to and deal with challenges by having the right mindset. Figure 1 outlines some of the things that affect your overall mindset that you can control. 

People that adopt a growth mindset, focus on abundance and practice positive self-talk are in a perfect mindset to make a positive impact on themselves and the future. Those that aren’t will likely struggle to deliver. Because of this, it pays to invest time and effort in getting into the right mindset. 

Mission, Vision and Values 

We at ABN Resource recently conducted a talent survey to our global network of lubricants industry contacts (numbering upwards of 22,000). The report established some key trends for talent attraction and retention and gave some valuable insight into what is important to existing personnel in the lubricants sector. A strong company culture with a compelling company mission and vision was a significant factor in both attracting and retaining skilled talent.  

Mission, vision and values can be the glue that binds your team together across any location and role function. It gives everyone a common purpose. When work feels meaningful and staff have something important to strive for, they are much more likely not just to join your company but to stick around.  

Value alignment should not be underestimated. It creates a workplace environment in which people are treated how they like to be treated. This leads to a happy and high-performing group of people that opt to stay for longer-term employment.  

We advise consulting your workforce regularly to revisit and reaffirm your mission, vision and values. What’s more, it is vital to deliver on your value set each day through employer and employee actions. By doing this, you have a very powerful attraction and retention tool.   

Leadership Traits 

Another key finding in the ABN Resource Talent report was the importance of having the right leaders to retain and attract talent. Get leadership right, and you will have an engaged workforce and the ability to attract people. Get leadership wrong, and it is much more likely that valuable staff will leave. Additionally, inadequate leadership may also result in talent not joining your company, as they may see a high turnover of staff or other red flags. 

The top leadership traits personnel said they wanted to see from leaders in the lubricant industry are the following:  

  • Empathy 
  • Inclusiveness 
  • Clarity 
  • Giving space to deliver 
  • Upskilling staff to enable career progression.  

How to Attract Talent 

Attracting talent starts with leadership prioritizing it as a key part of their job and making time and effort to work on it. Without the right people, you can seriously jeopardize your company’s overall well-being. 

Every company has the ability to offer a unique value proposition. You don’t need to please all people; that likely isn’t even possible. You just need to please the type of people you want to attract. So don’t be afraid to embrace what is unique and great about your company, and be sure to showcase those qualities. If it speaks well to the type of person you want to employ, you will get the right engagement and attract the people you need.  

In addition to showcasing your company, you should also raise awareness about lubricants. The sector has a lot to be proud of. It serves anything that moves, increases efficiency, lowers costs for consumers and improves the environment by enabling lower emissions. The variety of applications, technical challenges, development of new markets, innovation, problem-solving, and the sector’s role in environmental improvement are all great messages to publicize. It will also appeal to a wider audience, broadening the size of your talent pool and attracting new people into the sector. 

A free and easy way proven to raise awareness is through LinkedIn. Company LinkedIn pages as well as your own personal LinkedIn account are great ways to showcase what you do in your job and the impact that your company makes with its products in the markets you serve. You can showcase career development, your mission, vision and values, while showing your commitment to corporate social responsibility, which is essential to attracting younger generations. In fact, according to the Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study, 64% of Millennials would not take a job if their employer doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility policy in place. 

You can also use LinkedIn to advertize career opportunities to your network that could fill your open jobs. After people get outreach from you, one of the most likely next steps they take is to look at your website and social feeds. Are these digital channels showing what you want people to see? 

Another proven way to build a quickly available talent pipeline and attract the right people is by networking. Don’t just interview or engage with people when you are hiring. Make a point of doing it when you have no open roles, too. The benefit of this is that when you have a surprise resignation or another reason to hire fast, you will de-risk your hiring process by being able to pull from a trusted network of people you know and hire them because you have an existing relationship in place to leverage.   

Talent Retention 

Retention is impacted by four key factors. According to the ABN Resource Lubricants Talent Report, 20% of respondents listed career progression as a key reason to stay. Employees want a clear pathway for development and time scales for roles to change based on the achievement of key tasks.  

After that, 18% look for a challenging role in a supportive and progressive environment. Mentoring and training were another key area for retention. Experienced personnel enjoy the opportunity to develop and learn through either formal training or mentorship. An additional benefit of mentorship, learning and development is upskilling your workforce.   

Finally, people are looking for more flexibility in the workplace, with more than one in five respondents reporting that work-life balance is critical to their job satisfaction. This includes flexibility in place of work and hours of work.  

Also, employees are increasingly looking for jobs that come with flexibility to have creative freedom to use critical thinking and bring new ideas. These ideas can deliver big benefits to how your company operates and grows, too.    

Widening the Talent Pool 

ABN Resource continues to be a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. According to research gathered in the ABN Resource Diversity & Inclusion report, companies benefit from improved talent attraction, a wider pool of talent, better engaged workforces, higher creativity, increased innovation, and better problem-solving or decision-making capabilities. All of these things lead to higher profitability for companies in the lubricants sector. 

With all of these benefits, we would encourage readers to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives in their companies. There are still companies without clear policies, and they are missing a great opportunity to improve their culture as well as their bottom line.  

Implementing these benefits requires leadership buy-in, advocacy and an awareness of bias (both unconscious and conscious). Companies should give individuals of all backgrounds, life experiences, preferences and beliefs a workplace in which they are respected as individuals and valued for the different perspectives they bring. Additionally, companies should allow all people an equal opportunity to contribute and be their true selves, regardless of their background.  

As the future of work will be made up of a more multi-generational workforce, investing time in these fundamentals—particularly focusing on treating people how they like to be treated—is a factor that speaks to all people. It binds them together and creates a high-performance team that stays intact and makes your company more appealing to new employees. 

The Bottom Line 

This concludes ABN’s 4-point plan to help you with talent attraction and retention. It all starts with having the right mindset. You then need to work with your staff to create, implement and deliver on your agreed mission and vision, while operating within a set of agreed upon values that create a culture to bind people together. Attraction and retention do not happen without continued action and effort. You can build a great pipeline of qualified talent when you need to hire by utilizing tools like LinkedIn and more traditional networking methods. You also need to raise awareness and communicate to the world what is great about your company and the lubricants industry as a whole.  

Leaders play a key role in setting the culture as well as in retaining and attracting staff. Leaders are also very influential in delivering diversity and inclusion, which is proven to improve profits and make your business culture and performance skyrocket.  

The problem of finding and retaining quality employees will not go away without action. Fortunately, you now have a blueprint for success. Will you act on it, or will you file it away to look at “some other time?”  

You cannot expect the issue to disappear if you do nothing. Just a little bit of time and continuous applied effort in these four key areas will make a big difference to your company’s success. Go on and give them a try!  

James Moorhouse  is founder and director of ABN Resource, a global executive search firm hiring executives, commercial and technical personnel for the lubricants, additive and base oil industries.

Ewa Ozga  is marketing manager of ABN Resource, responsible for communicating about the lubricants industry to a wider audience and helping the downstream oil sector to retain and attract top talent.

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