People Issues Will Dominate Your Future - Part 2

July 04, 2015

Last time we talked about why the predicted talent shortage in mining was likely to be much worse than prior downturns, how previous responses to this shortfall were not going to work, and why interim HR may provide a potential way to prepare for these challenges. In this blog we talk about what interim HR would do and the learning from other industries.

Younger employees have more expectations from employers than older ones, are less loyal, will quit if they are unhappy and will easily find alternative work. Paying higher compensation to solve a talent shortage leads to inequity in the workplace. Inequity causes unhappiness. Other industries have learned that highly engaged workforces are more productive. Put crudely an engaged workforce is a happy one and happier people work harder.

What does this mean in mining? On the job training and personal development, senior leadership doing what they say they will do, equitable treatment and features and benefits that appeal to families are what make mining people happy. With mines increasingly located in difficult places more flexible working arrangements are required to help distinguish an employer who wants to attract mobile skills, from its rivals. 

Creating a place where people want to go, to work. Where higher retention, lower absenteeism, and innovation are features of a culture that contributes to the bottom line is the goal.

Anyone could figure out an HR plan and after some trial and error get it mostly right but that takes time. The safety person you have at site won’t be skilled in this area and if you do have an HR person at head office their experience is likely solid but not at the level of having produced a once or twice in a career strategic people plan.

Mapping talent needs is the start, what to outsource, what to keep in house, which are permanently needed and those required temporarily, where the gaps are, and whether to develop or hire to fill them. Planned redeployment internally or to partner companies to reduce talent leakage, creating opportunities for women and building bridges with educational establishments and aboriginal communities to deepen the talent pool, is next. The Talent Plan is a powerful tool demonstrating to new hires that you know where their career is going and the development opportunities ahead rather offering a vague promise.

Next is the enabling structure, incentive plans that motivate with measureable results, policies that reinforce culture, felt fair compensation, performance assessment, transparent communication, and equitable job evaluation. Stratospheric salaries and bidding wars are unsustainable methods of attracting and retaining productive people. 

This will be new for many mining companies. Other industries have made the strategic change and are transitioning to new employment models in order to compete for employees in the shrinking talent pool that faces all industries. Ample data exists to support a framework of engagement and the improvements to productivity and cost that result. The mining industry will not be exempt from changes in employee expectation and will be challenged further if we experience more than a gradual upturn.

A onetime investment in temporary, experienced HR help to develop a recruitment and engagement plan in preparation for the coming talent shortfall and changing employee expectations is likely to be a rewarding investment.

Ask how temporary experienced HR can assist your team in developing an HR talent plan. Email paulpittman@thehumanwell.com or call 905 842 7916. 

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