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Are retention issues the main catalyst for Drilling skill shortages?

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Sure, there are still people in WA who are quite happy to stay on Centrelink benefits rather than take entry level mining positions however, are we doing enough to keep the people we have?

If you’re prepared to fight in the trenches and work to combat the root causes of the skills shortage, you can turn this issue into an opportunity. The first step to solving the skills shortage is self-reflection.

Is the problem really a lack of available skills? Or, do you struggle to retain the right employees?

If it’s the former, you’re at the mercy of the market, passively waiting for a solution. If it’s the latter, you can actively fix the issue and grow your business by implementing some ‘culture’ changes and driving the industry forward.

Honesty from the get-go:

The easiest thing drilling contractors could do right now to retain skills and people is to inject some honesty at the start of the recruitment process.

Don’t over-promise, and don’t gloss over the gory details. Don’t sell your candidates a dream. Instead, be brutal!

Give candidates an in-depth glimpse into the drilling industry, make your expectations clear from the beginning and remember you may have been in their shoes at one point in your drilling career.

Scare away the ones who won’t last and focus your efforts on the ones who will. Train them, grow them, look after them and let them attract likeminded people to your business.

Give them a chance:

The ‘trust should be earned’ commentary should be left to last century, sure people will let you down, people will disappoint you but don’t let these frustrations come out on new employees.

Your internal brand:

Internal branding is crucial before you embark on any external branding and marketing campaigns. Internal branding is hugely significant to company morale, culture, productivity, and ultimately, production revenue.

Successful internal branding can also attract candidates and lead to easier recruitment.

If potential candidates are interested in your company, they’re likely familiar with your external brand through social media. If your business doesn’t prioritise internal branding, you run the risk of creating a huge disconnect between how your business is perceived and how it operates.

Ask yourself – does everyone in our business (from the recruitment team to the accounts department and site crew) have the same consistent story or elevator pitch when describing the company to new employees?

Not sure? Ask the team how they describe the organisation. The results could be eye opening.

A great way to do this – the BBQ exercise. Ask your team, if you were at a BBQ chatting to someone you just met, or hadn’t seen in a while and they asked, ‘So where are you working these days?’ – what would your response be?

Invest in talent:

If you aren’t already – it is time to embrace investing in talent.

Skilled employees are no different to any other investment. You get what you pay for, and if you leave the investment without attention or reinvestment, it will depreciate.

So, sometimes it is worth spending a little more time ‘shopping’ for the right fit. Training and upskilling, this is like regular maintenance to ensure your investment maintains its value. A positive work culture, and strong internal brand – this is like your insurance – to minimise the risk of employees leaving or becoming unproductive.


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