Money isn't everything: study

A RECENT study by the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute has found that high salaries aren’t enough to retain fly-in, fly-out workers.
Money isn't everything: study Money isn't everything: study Money isn't everything: study Money isn't everything: study Money isn't everything: study


Kristie Batten

The six-month study, supported by funding from Spotless Integrated Services, looked at the retention and wellbeing of FIFO workers in the resources sector.

The study generally found a high level of job satisfaction, with 89% satisfied with salary and 86% satisfied with the job.

Despite the high levels of job satisfaction, almost half (44%) reported that they intended to change jobs in the next 12 months, with the desire for better pay, greater work-life balance and career advancement the reasons given for changing jobs.

The research found that FIFO workers required personal space and quiet time to communicate with family and friends to boost their wellbeing and job satisfaction.

The research also found that workers craved facilities that provided respite from the stress of 12-hour shifts, multi-day rosters and being far from home.

“Contrary to popular assumptions that employees enjoy the ‘resort feel' of some modern FIFO accommodation, our findings suggest that FIFO workers are more interested in quiet, comfortable rooms,” Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining advisor Mary Anne Barclay said.

“They prefer good phone and internet connections to swimming pools or high-end dining and recreation facilities.

“The ability to connect with family and friends is important for the psychological health of FIFO workers – a sense of belonging reduces stress and loneliness and reassures the workers that they play an important role in the lives of the people closest to them.”

In fact, while 63% rated their accommodation as being good or very good, 62% said they wanted to change their accommodation, with better facilities or rooms sought-after by more than half.

Three quarters of participants reported they were in good or very good health, mentally and physically, though 20% reported moderate to severe sleep disturbance and 5% reported moderate to severe stress levels.

The study found that 60% thought long-distance commuting interfered with their home and family life and 40% admitted to feeling lonely or socially isolated.

Barclay, who led the research with Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre associate professor Philipp Kirsch, interviewed almost 300 predominantly well educated, mid-career professionals in technical and managerial roles.

“This study is unique for this industry in that 70% of respondents held a university degree and 40% were female,” Kirsch said.

“While confirming many of the findings from previous research, our study provides unique insights into the challenges that managerial workers face in the FIFO work experience.”

The researchers found there were opportunities to improve FIFO workers' job satisfaction and wellbeing through improved psycho-social support.