Scope to improve FIFO family support

MOST fly-in fly-out workers are satisfied with their work, but companies could do more to support families adjusting to the lifestyle, a new survey has found.
Scope to improve FIFO family support Scope to improve FIFO family support Scope to improve FIFO family support Scope to improve FIFO family support Scope to improve FIFO family support


Andrew Duffy

More than 800 medium to long-term FIFO workers completed the poll, run by Western Australian-based Creating Communities and FIFO Families, with the key findings underlining the importance of supporting the health and wellbeing of workers and their families.

Most participants (62%) were satisfied with their FIFO life and 69% said they had a strong sense of loyalty to their company.

However, 36% said companies did not understand the needs of workers, and 42% said companies did not appreciate the needs of families.

Family acceptance and support were seen as important factors, but only 2% of FIFO workers reported having been involved in an induction of family members into the lifestyle.

“Many people choose to work FIFO and the majority report being satisfied with their working life,” Creating Communities senior associate Andrew Watt said.

“However, it is very clear that there is an opportunity for companies to create even greater worker satisfaction, wellbeing and safety through prioritising personal and family support.

“Such an approach will enable workers to be better prepared and have the strategies to effectively manage the lifestyle changes that are present in moving to FIFO work.”

The survey found people without children were more satisfied with FIFO life.

The most satisfied were those that had been working FIFO for longer and intended to live the lifestyle for a longer period.

These workers had attended a formal induction into the lifestyle, and felt companies understood their needs and those of their families.

Mining workers were found to be more satisfied than workers in the construction or oil and gas sectors.

“FIFO is an essential component of the national employment landscape,” FIFO Families founder Nicole Ashby said.

“Thousands of WA families, including my own, choose to work this way. However, we need to be continually seeking to improve the satisfaction, health and wellbeing of FIFO workers.”

“Greater preparation for FIFO, induction and ongoing support for workers and families will help promote satisfaction and connectedness, which will also naturally lead to greater productivity for companies.”

Workers said the best roster was 14-on, 14-off or seven on/seven off, with salary the most important retention factor.

After salary, other key retention factors were, in order of importance, job security, family acceptance, and roster arrangements.

Around half of the survey’s participants came from the mining sector, with one-quarter from oil and gas and one-quarter from construction.

Men made up 80% of all participants and nearly 80% of respondents were aged between 25 and 44.