Well paid, but happy?

IT'S ironic that the wealthiest workers in Australia are also some of the unhappiest

It’s ironic that the wealthiest workers in Australia are also some of the unhappiest; employers must recognise the value of their workforce by investing in their development and well-being. Jamie Wade writes

In an industry dominated by heavy machinery, technical equipment, budgets, balance sheets and the bottom line the timely and recent release of two salary surveys provides an interesting insight into the human dimension or mood among mining professionals amid the boom.

Therefore, for the purposes of this July 2007 issue of Australian Mining magazine the focus is on salaries, remuneration and experience, job considerations, skills shortages and work-life balance.

For those interested in rates of pay the Hays Salary Survey 2007 (see page 4) is a nice warm fuzzy.

There’s no sign of slowing down in the demand for skills as salaries continue to rise.

However, it’s the results of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (AusIMM) Remuneration & Employment Survey Report (May 2007) survey that really commands attention.

Less than six in ten respondents (58.3%) are happy with their current career situation, and the pressure on mining professionals is high.

Two thirds of mining professionals agree that people are under more pressure because of the skills shortage (66.4%), that the skills shortage has left them short staffed (64.4%), and the skills shortage has meant their employer now pays more for less experienced personnel (62.9%).

More than half of respondents (52.9%) agreed that the skills shortage has meant they have more people performing in more senior roles without sufficient professional experience.

Only 19.1% of respondents said that the skills shortage has not affected their workplace.

The most important aspect for mining professionals when considering job options is maintaining the balance between work and home life.

One quarter of those surveyed said the most important aspect was the professional challenge presented by the job, while 11.8% said career development prospects.

The value of the remuneration package was chosen by 3.9% of respondents, the lowest of any reason.

Just under one half of respondents believe their partner has a compatible lifestyle (48.5%) and 48.3% believe their employer provides sufficient on the job training.

A substantial 42.3% of respondents disagree where they work has an effective mentoring system and 47.2% disagree their working lifestyle allows them sufficient time to carry out additional study.

Career development prospects are important to 61.5% of respondents.

More than eight in ten respondents (81.5%) who feel that career development is important expect their career to progress in the next two years.

More than four in ten respondents (41.2%) indicated they are likely or very likely to move from their current workplace, compared to 37.5% who are unlikely or very unlikely (the remaining 21.3% are neutral). Approximately one third of mining professionals are likely to change their employer (31.7%) and 28.5% are likely to change jobs in the same workplace.

One in ten (10.4%) are likely to retire and only 7.9% are likely to move out of the minerals industry entirely. In 2005, respondents were more likely to indicate they plan to change employers or move from their current workplace than in this year’s study.

The professional challenges presented by the job and the team environment are both very important to respondents, with 89.8% and 84.8%, respectively, of respondents.

Seven in ten respondents (70.5%) also think where the job is located is highly important.

More than one third of mining professionals (35%) agree the aging workforce is an issue at their workforce.

Nearly a quarter (23.4%) agree that a lot of professional staff in their company are expected to retire in the next five years.

The insights from the survey are that the industry will need to invest a lot more in the well-being of its skilled workforce to attract and retain talent.

Skilled employees are far more likely to stick with employers that invest in their career development.

Mentoring programs, which are notably absent in the industry, could go a long way to retaining people – especially graduates.

There is also an obvious need for health and well-being initiatives. This is obviously a workforce working in hazardous environments under demanding conditions; it’s only a matter of time before something gives. Without effective measures to maintain health and well-being, burnout could spell the premature end of many promising careers in mining.

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