Mining companies wasting workers

Miners Dumped

The mining industry was allowing qualified workers to walk out the door due to poor planning around redundancies according to an HR consulting firm.

Right Management carried out research amongst redundant mining workers attending its career transition programs between January 2009 and June 2010 to find a massive 50 per cent were leaving the mining sector altogether after losing their jobs.

Talent management practice leader at Right Management Rosemarie Dentesano says the mining sector was starting to experience growing skills shortages and to let highly trained people leave the sector was expensive and wasteful.

According to the June 2010 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, 37 per cent of employers in the mining and resources sector were planning to increase hiring this quarter. In the December quarter only 15 per cent of employers surveyed were planning to increase hiring.

Yet despite this growing need for skilled workers and even a Fair Work Act requirement that redeployment be considered ahead of redundancy, Dentesano said many organisations were not canvassing opportunities between sites around the country before letting trained staff go.

She says Right Management had been involved in the successful redeployment of redundant workers from South Australia to new long term jobs in Queensland but that was rare.

"It’s partly because of geography but also because there’s not much talking between sites, and different units operate as different companies," she says.

"An approach from an interstate employee [from a sister company] is often still treated as an external application."

Dentesano says while some of the miners were leaving the sector to get away from fly-in-fly-out arrangements many told Right Management they were leaving because there were no other opportunities available.

"A large investment goes into attracting people to the industry and then training them in such a specialised area so it’s crucial that we don’t let these people walk away from the industry," she said.

"They need to focus more on retaining the workforce already standing there, with work boots on, ready to go."

Right Management was also concerned that mining and resources employers were putting their remaining workforce under pressure due to slow rehiring and cuts to staff development programs.

Dentesano says some employers cut staff during the global down turn even when they didn’t really need to. This resulted in "piling on the work" on remaining employees thus lowering productivity, engagement and retention rates.
She says leadership development programs were particularly hard hit and the resulting short-term economic gain would create long term pain for employers if not addressed.

"Not only does it create a gap in the company’s leadership capability, it has a knock-on effect for retention, because employees won’t stay and work for poor people managers," Dentesano warns.

Article from, August 18, 2010.

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