Six ways to provide holistic support for your remote mining employees

 What are employees’ holistic needs?

We can break these down into three health categories: physical, social and mental. Physically, people need healthy food, sufficient sleep and exercise. Socially, people need to feel they have the chance to have fun and unwind while connecting with friends. Mentally people need to feel connected and supported by their community and that their life has meaning. It may sound like a huge task to support employees in this way, but remote sites that neglect any of these aspects are unlikely to attract and retain quality staff. Worse still, if they do attract quality candidates, that employee’s well being soon suffers, and their value is eroded to the point where they leave. If they don’t leave, they quickly become a financial drain on the business due to absenteeism and low productivity.


Six ways to support employees’ holistic needs

1. Delicious and nutritious

Give your remote mining site employees access to healthy, well-balanced options at every meal. Work with a qualified chef and nutritionist to develop seasonal menus that have a wide variety of delicious, healthy options. It’s important to focus on meals that provide sustained energy needed for high productivity. You can also include an education program to empower employees in making the right choices when selecting what to eat.


2. Get physical

Exercise is vital for supporting physical and mental well being. When done in a group scenario, it also supports employees’ social needs. Some sites provide an onsite gym and fitness classes. Others hold on camp sporting events. You can also consider getting a team together to enter a local sporting competition in town. That has the added benefit of giving your site employees the chance to have positive interactions with the local community.


3. Entertain them

This should go beyond providing TV or Wi-Fi. Run entertainment activities that also encourage people to socialise. A strong social life and workplace culture makes a huge difference on remote sites. Lacking a sense of belonging is one of the major contributors to staff choosing to disengage and leave an organisation. Sites with a great reputation for strong community spirit attract and retain higher quality employees. Some ideas include trivia nights, live music or stand-up comedy shows, pool or darts competitions, and karaoke nights. Make sure to include a variety of events in your calendar that appeal to a range of tastes.


4. Celebrate life

It’s a good idea to celebrate events like New Year’s, but you can also inject fun into your mining camp site with themed events. When workers feel they are part of a community, it can have a positive effect on their mental health and emotional well being. Community involvement has been proven to provide a sense of belonging and social connectedness. Create a community atmosphere by taking people on a culinary adventure with regular, themed nights in the dining room. This is a great way to inject even more variety into your menu and provide a chance to socialise and have fun. You could, for example, celebrate Bastille Day with a French-themed menu, décor and activities or have a charity event such as Cupcake Day for the RSPCA.


5. Normalise support seeking

Many mining workers report struggling with being separated from their emotional support networks1. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are commonplace, yet few employees seek mental health support. Barriers to support seeking include embarrassment, a culture of not discussing problems, fear of loss of employment if problems are openly discussed and mistrust in support programs. That means it’s not just enough to supply mental health support services. You also need to raise awareness of the support available and provide education that removes stigma and gains trust, while helping people recognise warning signs.


6. Keep it clean  

This may be a little surprising to some people, but science has proven that keeping your site clean, tidy and well maintained is also good for people’s holistic well being. Naturally, cleaner spaces lead to less spread of illness and disease, but it goes further than the physical. Studies show people with clean houses are healthier and more active than people with messy houses2. 75% say they get a better night’s sleep if they have clean sheets. If the bed is made each morning, they’re 19% more likely to report regularly getting a good night’s sleep. That’s why having clean, well maintained facilities with those home touches is vital to the health and well being of remote workers.

While the employers of remote workforces face unique challenges, they’re solved when the holistic needs of employees are met. Take great care of your employees and everyone benefits.  


Sources: 1. Centre for Transformative Work Design, Curtin University (2018); 2. Ryback, R. (2016).

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