Retention strategies to stop the mining exodus

Escape key on a keyboard, lit red, symbolising mining industry employee retention strategies.

When employees are so hard to find, retaining the ones you have becomes even more important. What will the exodus from mining look like over the next year or two?

Mining’s current skills shortage is a complicated beast. Added to the normal economic pressures we’ve seen in previous shortages, this time there’s also the ongoing impact of the pandemic and government policy responses.

When employees are so hard to find, retaining the ones you have becomes even more important. But that, too, is more difficult now than it once was. The recruitment and HR industries are talking about “the big resignation” — as people who have had their lives up-ended by two years of the pandemic choose lifestyle over career and leave their jobs.

What will the exodus from mining look like over the next year or two? In short, it could be quite bad. Recent online surveys by Mining People have found:

  • Almost 40% of the industry’s current workforce is planning to leave their jobs in 2022
  • A further 25% of employees are planning to leave in the next five years
  • 20% of mining employees are planning to leave the industry altogether in 2022.

Retention strategies will be key in 2022

Those figures are despite a general belief by industry employees that the outlook for mining jobs, including salaries, are likely to be much better in the year ahead than they were in 2021.

Throwing money at the problem in the form of higher salaries isn’t going to be enough to solve the problem. Mining companies will need to consider a suite of clever strategies.

Here are some options we believe are worth considering, based on the motivations of the mining job candidates we speak to every day.

Create a culture of belonging

So many employees left their previous job because they didn’t like the culture of the place. A serious effort to improve company culture is probably the single best investment you can make in staff retention. This isn’t about providing pizza on Fridays; it’s about everything from your company values to your onboarding process, to the way your managers treat their teams, to the hours people are expected to work, to your parental leave policies.

Create professional development opportunities

Ninety-four per cent of people told a major study by LinkedIn they’d stay longer at a company if it invested in their professional development. When you invest in an employee’s skills with training and other opportunities, you’re implicitly telling them not only that you believe in them and value them, but you see them having a long-term future with the business.

Know exactly what your employees want

Don’t assume you know what each employee wants or expects, or that they’re happy with their lot in life. Reach out regularly to your employees to find out what their hopes, dreams and expectations are for their career. Then you can help them work towards achieving those goals with your company, instead of going up the road. Communication is absolutely key.

Offer clear career progression

Make sure you’re offering clear and attractive career path options for your employees. People often leave in order to progress to the next level. Also, career plans are as individual as employees themselves, so don’t assume everyone wants the same linear career as everyone else (otherwise you’ll lose them when they want to make a sideways step).

Consider your work-life balance offering

Work-life balance is a major reason people leave their jobs. People are humans first, employees second. They want to be able to attend their kids’ school assembly, get home in time for dinner, and have their weekends free for leisure. People are actively pursuing jobs that give them this kind of space.

Mining People International has more than 27 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies find the best candidates across every job category. Find out more here or get in touch today.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International