How the right travel policy could boost employee retention in mining

FCM - Employee Retention Mining - LP

How the right travel policy could boost employee retention in mining

Mining is headed for an important era of success in 2022, with the sector witnessing a strong recovery – and every sign of future growth.

A recent report from PWC recently highlighted that mining is one of the few industries that emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic economic crisis in excellent financial and operational shape. In fact, 2020 was a banner year for the mining sector globally.

A high element of risk to the success of the sector, however, is employee retention. The PWC report reads: “Working onsite under COVID conditions places additional burdens on employees. There’s time spent in isolation before rosters start, time waiting for test results or time until the next rostered off period. But people’s priorities have shifted since the pandemic, and spending time with family and loved ones has taken on new significance. This, plus the fact that cross-border movements remain restricted, could deter people from working in mining.”

One solution would be to introduce a hybrid model of working. However, an on-site presence will always form an important part of any mining operation. That’s exactly why it’s important for mining companies to relook their travel policies and adopt a traveller-centric approach to travel, says Bonnie Smith, GM FCM.

Most mining companies never stopped travelling – even during the pandemic. But that didn’t mean that travellers weren’t nervous. “A lot of travellers were apprehensive to travel in those first few months. Their concerns ranged from wearing a mask for the duration of their 11-hour flight to fears they would be ‘stuck’ on location,” explains Kelly Simpson, FCM Travel Expert.

According to Simpson, clear, thorough, and constant communication helped overcome many fears in those early months. And it still does today. “It helps to know somebody is available to assist 24/7 in case you need help with your travel arrangements, if you need to reschedule a flight or if you are worried your PCR test results might not arrive in time for your flight.”

Simpson explains she has dealt with many travel disruptions over the course of her career. “I’ve had phone calls from mining employees who fell asleep in the lounge and missed their connecting flight; an employee whose passport got stolen while on the flight, travellers rocking up the day before they’re meant to fly and even employees who test positive for COVID while on location. They know they can phone me at any time of the day or night,” she says, adding that she will always find a solution. 

The reality is that travel experts and TMCs such as FCM, have established solid relationships with airlines and hotels, which allows them to ‘pull strings’ when something happens and find solutions to problems quickly. “Travel agents know a lot more than a computer when it comes to booking travel,” laughs Simpson.

She adds: “Our relationship with airlines and hotels also helps mining companies reduce travel costs. Mining companies are very cost-conscious – especially now – and so we’ll always try and find the best deal through direct airline deals or through our global buying power.”

However, Simpson adds that cost-cutting has taken a backseat compared to traveller wellness since the pandemic. “Sometimes the guys just want to get home and they don’t want to spend an additional 36 hours on location just to shave a few bucks off the flight price.

Alleviating traveller friction has always been a focal point for companies, but is now more important than ever, agrees Smith. “Companies need to strike a delicate balance that considers both budgets and traveller satisfaction—if they don’t, they risk their best employees becoming unhappy and even leaving the company.”

Travellers today want a corporate travel policy that puts them first, gives them flexibility, lets them use easy mobile platforms for booking and expenses, and gives the option of talking to a travel advisor who can help them with their travel issues at any time of the day or night. “By just putting these simple measures in place, mining companies can boost employee retention and get ready for a successful 2022,” concludes Smith.

 

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regarding your mining travel policy.

There's been a shift. A shift in how we work, a shift in our priorities, and a shift in our mindsets.  But what's shifted in business travel? After months of being grounded and spending more time at home, companies are reevaluating in-person meetings and thinking twice before approving a trip.  The question becomes - how will companies start to prioritise what happens face-to-face vs. virtually? It starts by defining meaningful travel.