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Retaining staff in Indonesia’s coalmines

Indonesia’s talent pool is drying up as workers seek attractive salaries and greater opportunities elsewhere, but what mechanisms can enterprises initiate to retain staff?

“How to find and retain employees are real challenges facing large coal mining companies in the Indonesian market,” said John J Ramos, Finance Director of PT Berau Coal Energy at the 18th annual Coaltrans Asia held in Bali.

Indonesia already has a shortage of planning and operations engineers, geologists, financial analysts and strategic planners. Of these, both engineering roles and geologists suffer from high turnover rates. Health and safety supervisors are close behind as government initiatives reiterate the need for better standards within the industry.

Short-term mines with investors who are typically involved in other industries and purchase into coal concessions pose the biggest threat. With low overheads, high salaries and a fast recruitment process, these mines are causing disruption amongst many career paths in the industry.

Professional service firms like consulting also pose a threat. They offer growth opportunities and can be a stepping-stone to a senior role. Consultants also enjoy high salaries with abundant training and development opportunities.

Regional differences highlight Indonesia’s weakened staff retention position. Australia and increasingly China offer attractive compensation packages, healthcare, education and succession.

The critical shortage of talented staff in the market means companies need to consider how they can keep their staff from competitors within Indonesia and abroad.

“In order to understand your place in the market you have to obtain a salary survey from professional firms or find a credible human resources consultant,” said Ramos. This information can prove invaluable when determining wages.

Mine sites are often unhealthy environments and recreational activities can transform this workspace. These include fitness facilities, clubhouses and events. Distance learning and onsite training also promote a professional setting, which mine sites lack.

Key positions at the mine site attract staff from larger cities or abroad and come with the same expectations as home. Contracting with a reputable healthcare organisation, providing quality education and safe housing gives employees and families a comfortable and safe environment.

Training and development creates a better workforce, increases productivity and builds confidence. At the same time Ramos warns: “you could be developing a better workforce for competitor mines and smaller mines with lower overhead are not your friends.”

Succession planning is essential to creating a career path rather than just a job. “Employees should not have to wait for someone to die, retire, quit or get fired in order to be promoted,” commented Ramos. Building sustainability helps staff believe in a company for the long-term and promotes loyalty.

The little things also count to employees. Internet access provides a platform for distance learning. Professional catering shows enterprises care about health and aids the local area by utilising staff and produce from the community.

Jero Wacik, Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources, said at Coaltrans Asia, “it is essential and possible to create employment opportunities in the coal industry,” but coal companies also need to face the challenge of keeping their existing employees.

This content is provided by Coaltrans Conferences for informational purposes only, and it reflects the market and industry conditions and presenter’s opinions and affiliations available at the time of the presentation.

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