How employee engagement can increase results for the mining sector

Technological advances, record levels of merger and acquisition activity, efforts at safeguarding existing markets and identifying new opportunities, are but some of the factors driving significant change within the mining sector.

While almost all of the changes ultimately have an impact on frontline employees, they often have little input into how these unfold in their work environment, leaving many employees feeling anxious about their future prospects.

In a study exploring the relationship between mineworkers’ job demands and work engagement, the researchers Martina Kotzé and Petrus Nel note that workers are often expected to face change with resilience and resourcefulness. Their research showed that these attitudes are likely to be present in organisations where there is ongoing engagement: ‘The organisation–employee relationship is characterised by a social exchange process. When employees experience their organisations as supportive, they will reciprocate this support by exhibiting a positive effect towards their work/organisation’.

In the mining sector where frontline employees are generally averse to organisational change activities, employee engagement is of vital importance. Engaged organisations that have structures, tools and support mechanisms enable their employees to feel fulfilled and encouraged to dedicate their efforts towards company success.

The opportunity to improve performance, promote innovation and achieve business goals can thus be unlocked by companies via employee engagement. Correctly harnessing this opportunity also holds various benefits for companies as outlined below.

Giving Metrics Meaning

Are the tasks workers undertake correctly aligned with business objectives? How much of their working shift is focused on production activities and which portion is dedicated to ancillary activities? There are many executives that would like a simple answer to these questions. They won’t get it if workers are bombarded with surveys or find efforts at engagement complex. It quite simply boils down to asking the right questions. Get this aspect correct and the data you glean from carefully constructed surveys can help you make powerful extrapolations related to employee performance.

Promoting Perception Change

It’s estimated that by the end of the decade Millennial and Gen Z generations will make up more than 70% of the global talent pool. These generations initiate or end relationships with employers based on how companies treat the environment and position themselves on social and political issues.

Mining leaders can use an internal communication app to engage employees around their company’s response to climate change, protection of resources and how the company will generate long-term sustainable value. Communicating a company’s vision for a sustainable future internally is the first step in positioning an organisation as an attractive proposition for future talent.

Making Safety Supreme

There is little doubt that the majority of mining companies focus a lot of energy and resources on avoiding the tragic outcomes of safety incidents. However, the reality is that gains can still be made in this area particularly since it is an issue many mine workers are concerned about. Companies with high engagement levels show a 64% lower level of safety incidents than companies with poor engagement levels. Making use of employee engagement solutions that allow for ongoing conversations around safety considerations allows this critical aspect to permeate to all levels of a company.

Powering Productivity Upward

Since the early 2000s the mining industry has been wrestling with challenges related to declining productivity. In the main, this has been offset through access to cheaper investment capital and the displacement of labour through the use of machinery and access to low-priced energy. Analysts believe this approach no longer offers meaningful gains.

Those companies confronting employee productivity challenges with confidence have acknowledged the need for a step-change in frontline worker relationships. Across a host of measurable production factors ranging from absenteeism, lower worker turnover, safety improvements and profitability, there are statistics reflecting the positive impact of employee engagement. Companies that are serious about achieving productivity improvements are working on solutions focused on their most impactful assets – frontline workers.

Key Takeaways

The mining sector is abuzz with change and a myriad of perspectives are driving a wide range of debates within the industry. What is not in dispute is that mining companies are on the cusp of significant change and that effective employee engagement is going to be a key pillar in the quest for a sustainable future. To learn more about the essentials that should be in place to drive successful employee engagement, talk to an expert today.

To find out what productivity metrics to track in the mining sector, read here.