Personal financial security top reason to work in mining: poll

Mining industry jobs personal financial security

Personal financial security is still a major reason people are attracted to jobs in the mining industry, a new survey has found.

The promise of being able to set themselves up financially is still a major reason people are attracted to jobs in the mining industry, a new survey has found.

With tax time just around the corner, Mining People wanted to know how mining industry employees view their careers when it comes to money, income and financial security. Results of an online poll held throughout May 2022 suggest the long popular belief that “a few years in the mines” can help a young person create a financially strong position for themselves still holds true today.

What’s more, many industry employees do seem to be taking steps not just to talk the talk on financial security, but to walk the walk.

Mining doesn’t seem to be a vocation for most employees

Fifty-six per cent of respondents told Mining People’s poll they were “100%” originally attracted to a career in mining by the idea of “setting yourself up financially”. A further 19.5% said it was a part of their considerations. Less than a quarter said it didn’t factor into their thinking at all, which could perhaps suggest only one in four people in the industry are in it vocationally!

We also wanted to explore what “setting yourself up financially” actually meant to people working in mining, so we asked respondents to choose their top five priorities from a list we provided. Here’s what they said, in descending order of priority:

  1. Being able to give my family better opportunities
  2. Buying my own home (including paying off the mortgage, renovations, etc.)
  3. Living the good life (travel, toys, etc.)
  4. Getting some cash in the bank
  5. Saving enough money to follow my dreams.

READ MORE: 5 things you can do to secure your financial future

How employees are looking after their income

Other, slightly less popular options included saving for retirement, investing in stocks and shares, investing in property and paying off existing debts.

As any financial adviser will tell you, there’s a lot more to financial security than just earning big dollars. So, we asked respondents whether they had a financial plan in place. The results were quite encouraging. (Note: figures are rounded.)

  • 15% - Yes, it’s looked after by a financial planner
  • 49% - Yes, I have my own budget and I’m strict with it
  • 17% - Vaguely, I’m not strict with it
  • 20% - No.

READ MORE: Financial tips for FIFO workers

We also asked respondents about a couple of key investment areas. Almost 44% said they regularly topped up their superannuation, while almost a quarter said they occasionally did so. Less than a third said they never topped up their super. More than 40% said they invested in mining stocks, including almost 20% who said they held shares in the company they work for.

READ MORE: Your mining industry retirement checklist

Finally, we asked whether mining had helped our respondents to actually achieve their financial goals. This was the big test and, mostly, the news was positive. More than 56% — the same proportion who said they “100%” entered mining to secure their financial future — said mining had helped them achieve their financial goals. A further 17% said it had helped to some extent. Almost 27% said it hadn’t.

Where does that leave us, as an industry?

All of the above is wonderful news for the employees concerned, but what’s the take-out here for the industry?

When three-quarters of our workforce is in it for the money, at least on some level, that’s not a great sign we’re getting a lot right. If anything, it’s perhaps a good indication our industry still needs to be doing more to promote the range of amazing careers available in mining and resources.

We’ve been banging on about this for a long time but, as an industry, we need to do a better job of selling mining careers. We need to get young people excited about the industry and the opportunities it presents.

Money is a motivator, but it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all. Every employer wants workers who are passionate about what they do. Passionate employees are good at their jobs, they’re more productive, they stay longer, they motivate those around them, and they make for a better workplace culture.

We need to find other ways to get people excited about mining careers, because if the only way we can attract 75% of our workforce is with big salaries, then we’re missing out not just on the passion but the productivity and the innovation that come with it. It also means, at times when labour is tight (as it is right now), we’re likely to see yet more upward pressure on salaries, which is counterproductive.

Are your salaries and conditions of employment enough to keep turnover costs in check? Request a targeted remuneration and benefits research report to answer this question.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International