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What about the wife and kids?

WHILE coal companies go to great efforts to ensure a smooth assimilation of new overseas or out-of-state mine personnel, often it is the worker’s wife and children that get left out. And often, it is the wife and children’s trouble adjusting that cause a mine employee to leave his new position. <i>International Longwall News</i> speaks to Cadden Crowe about what mining companies can do to help families adjust to their new life.

Angie Tomlinson
What about the wife and kids?

Sourcing for certain areas, especially in Central Queensland and in light of the current skills shortage, has proven extremely difficult over the past few years. Coal companies have been forced to leave their usual hunting grounds and recruit personnel from overseas.

Cadden Crowe consultant Jane McConnell said coal companies generally did a good job culturally and technically assimilating the hired personnel – but could sometimes leave out the family.

“They look after the guy but forget the whole tribe that comes along behind him,” she said.

“It is essential that the wife is included in the initial recruit. When a company brings a candidate over for a final interview, it is critical they bring the wife too. It may be an extra expense, but in the long run could pay off.”

She said companies should look at putting a package together about the community the family will be moving to – including information on real estate, schools and community facilities.

For a Northern Territory client, Cadden Crowe put together a comprehensive checklist to assist in designing the site visit around the individual, rather than a generic itinerary.

Candidates plus their partners, undertook a town tour where they visited the local schools, gained information about sporting activities and clubs on offer in the town as well as a general overview of the township. As part of their time on site they would also view their housing entitlement.

For management positions the candidate and partner would have an informal dinner with the hiring manager and their partner which provided them with a social setting to probe further in regards to the lifestyle.

For another client, Cadden Crowe helped set up an informal network called the “wives club” and got prospective movers to get in touch with other wives before they made the decision to move.

McConnell said the problem was especially accentuated in Central Queensland where the lack of housing forced families to live on the coast while their husbands worked inland, hence losing their family support.

She said while the Cadden Crowe followed up with employee and their family and provided regular feedback to the company, it was essential that the employer also checked-in on the family.

She said companies could look at establishing relationships with real estate agents and look at offering employees a discount. Companies could also look at offering free flight time. “If the family is offered one free trip a year home, it could make all the difference in long term retention.”

Retention bonuses are also an option.

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