19/06/2020 - 10:02

Companies missed the FIFO memo

19/06/2020 - 10:02


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Retaining fly-in, fly-out workers could become a major issue for the Western Australian mining sector, with a report suggesting companies lack a clear understanding of the benefits valued most by their employees.

Companies missed the FIFO memo
Dani Tamati (left), Kristen Turnbull and Anthony Hasluck jointly oversaw the report on WA’s FIFO workforce. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Site experience and work-life balance are major considerations for WA FIFOs.

Retaining fly-in, fly-out workers could become a major issue for the Western Australian mining sector, with a report suggesting companies lack a clear understanding of the benefits valued most by their employees.

The report by Perth-based consultancies Clarity Communications, CoreData, and THE resources HUB looked into the non-financial considerations FIFOs used to choose an employer.

The majority of the 290 FIFOs surveyed for the ‘Battle for Talent’ report still worked in the industry, at a mix of WA companies, while 55 of their partners or spouses also responded.

It found several non-financial benefits valued most by FIFOs were largely being overlooked by the sector, with particular regard to on-site experience, work-life balance and professional development.

When it comes to on-site accommodation, 86 per cent of employees said comfortable bedding was their top consideration, but only 57 per cent reported having this available to them.

Likewise, blackout curtains and soundproofing were highly valued, but not as available to FIFOs as they would have liked, representing significant ‘availability gaps’.

CoreData deputy managing director Kristen Turnbull said FIFOs valued creature comforts ahead of luxury and extra amenities.

“There’s been a lot of media focus in recent times around these really big-ticket items that mining companies are offering, like virtual reality gaming and golf driving ranges,” Ms Turnbull told Business News.

“In a way, employers could actually get more bang for their buck by spending less and ticking off the things that people are really saying make a big difference for them.

“It’s not about the grand gestures; it’s about the little things that make their on-site experience more like home.”

Ms Turnbull said employers got the basic amenities right, such as shops, laundries and medical clinics, but still placed too much focus on extra amenities.

According to the report, 90 per cent of mining companies had pubs on site, but only 41 per cent of workers said this was important to them.

Likewise, 93 per cent of employers offer gym access – an extra amenity that’s valued by only 53 per cent of FIFOs.

Other non-financial benefits, such as even-time rosters and travelling on company time, were highly sought after by FIFOs when considering which companies to work for.

The report showed that 75 per cent of employees valued even-time rosters, but only 37 per cent reported having this available to them.

Similarly, nearly 80 per cent of workers said they valued the ability to travel on company time – whereby any travel to and from mine sites was considered a paid day – but only 45 per cent of companies offered this benefit.

However, THE resources HUB owner and managing director Dani Tamati said it was becoming more common for employers to offer travel on company time, particularly as a retention strategy.

The availability of professional development and training, as well as having clear career pathways, were also strong drivers, the report found.

“There used to be a lot of emphasis on training and development within mining companies in particular, and that was probably one of the first ‘nice to haves’ to go when the downturn hit,” Ms Tamati told Business News.

While these benefits were still important to about 75 per cent of FIFOs, only 19 per cent reported having clear career pathways, and 35 per cent said they were receiving professional training.

Missing out on family events was also a key issue for about 70 per cent of FIFOs, according to the report, with around 50 per cent of workers saying they felt disconnected from their partner or families.

These challenges made nearly half of the surveyed FIFOs consider leaving their job, with a third saying they were actively looking to join a different company.

Ms Turnbull said, from a retention perspective, it was important for mining companies to consider families as part of the package.

Clarity Communications founder and managing director Anthony Hasluck said not enough regard was being afforded to partners, spouses and families of mine site workers who, according to the report, influenced the decision-making process for around 60 per cent of FIFOs.

The report also highlighted a disconnect between perception and reality in how partners of FIFOs felt about them working away.

“The person going off to the mining camp might actually be carrying a burden in their mind as well as missing out on all the family events, while the person at home is actually just getting on with life,” Mr Hasluck told Business News.

“It’s almost the reverse of what we think might be the problem.”

Mr Hasluck and Ms Turnbull said mining companies could help employees and their partners deal with communication issues early on.

To join a webinar discussing this report, click here: https://www.coredata.com.au/blog/was-battle-for-mining-talent/




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