Mobility in the Mining Sector: Big Changes & Challenges 03.18.2024 | Gina Grover

Established. Predictable. Old faithful, if you will. That used to be the mining industry, at least when it came to mobility. As a mobility partner, we were accustomed to working with mining clients operating programs with consistent employee demographics and needs that seldom changed. The “traditional” assignment was often male, head of household, working in remote locations and therefore unaccompanied. These assignments were described as difficult, and the recruited employees were typically accustomed to long durations away from family and in harsh conditions. They returned home for a short time before embarking on a new assignment. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But increasing costs and competition for talent within the new world of work are disrupting these established patterns, and the mining industry is undergoing big changes to the way it supports mobile employees. We recently hosted a Corporate Insight Session with a group of mining industry leaders to dive into some of these culture and process changes, as well as their current obstacles when it comes to workforce mobility. Some of what they shared may surprise you:

Re-Mixing Mining Mobility Programs

Many of our corporate participants indicated that they had made changes to their program over the past few years — particularly adopting core/flex policies — prompted by efforts to be more equitable across all job grade levels. Flex benefits are being provided in various ways, such as a dollar amount, points-based, and a set number of flex benefits to choose from. How often policies are reviewed and/or changed ranges greatly from every 1-2 years to over ten years between policy changes. Regardless, we love to see this industry embracing new ways of meeting the needs of their mobile talent.

Housing Woes Persist

Housing — both temporary and long-term — is one of the greatest challenges faced by mining companies who struggle with a lack of inventory within remote locations and a lack of affordability within more densely populated locales. The great news is that participants have been testing the waters with creative solutions around common housing hurdles, such as keeping leases on properties after an assignment has ended, or taking out long-term leases on properties used for temporary housing.

Reluctant to Make the Move

Mine workers are not showing any great reluctance to relocate as they are familiar with how their industry works, however there is a growing reluctance to move among corporate employees; a sentiment echoed across virtually every other industry right now. Remote locations, difficulty securing housing, increases in cost of living, and an unwillingness to move to hardship locations (including areas like Quebec with a French language requirement) were cited as some of the top reasons for the reluctance to move.

When Living Gets Costly

Increases in the cost of living aren’t just a pain point for employees weary to relocate, but their employers, too, who are challenged to find ways to ensure that their mobile talent aren’t disadvantaged by the differential. Most participants indicated that an increased cost of living for permanent transfers was addressed through compensation instead of a cost-of-living allowance. A relocation bonus has also been offered as a way to address the increased cost of living.

It was also noted that relocating employees often don’t realize the increase in the cost of living until they are settled into their new location, so addressing this pain-point post-move can create some administrative hurdles.

Family Matters

Many companies – within this industry, and beyond — realize that to drive assignment success, they need to support the family, not just the employee. And even better, many of our participants recognize that providing assistance for the accompanying family is a relatively low-cost way to improve the employee experience (compared to the far more significant cost of a failed assignment or loss of talent).

Some inclusivity measures are even at no cost, such as using inclusive language within policies, like “accompanying partner” or “trusted adult.” The benefits of DEI initiatives on the other hand, are extensive, helping to earn the trust of your workforce and positioning the company as an employer of choice.

Participants also noted the use of well-being allowances to cover family services.

Securing doctors and daycare is another key challenge for relocating families, particularly within Canada. This, unfortunately, is a widespread challenge faced by locals, not just newcomers, so this may be one area where companies may face hurdles in finding creative support solutions.

The mining industry is undergoing a dynamic transformation driven by innovation, sustainability, and a commitment to safety.

From the adoption of cutting-edge technologies like automation and data analytics to the promotion of sustainable practices and talent mobility, mining companies are embracing change to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that mobility will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the industry. Whether it’s through remote operations, digitalization, or helping to build a strong pipeline of future talent, the ability to move the right people with the right skills efficiently and safely is fundamental to success.

Share this Article

Written by Gina Grover

Drawing on over a decade of mobility and consulting experience, Gina works directly with Weichert’s clients across multiple industries to identify solutions through proven research and benchmarking. Gina is a Minnesota native (you betcha!) who woke up one day and decided to move to Florida with her family.


Cookie Statement

In order to deliver an optimized user experience, this site uses cookies. To learn more, please see our cookie policy.

Accept & Close

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter. It's an easy way to stay connected to the latest workforce mobility trends and best practices.

Contact Us