Solving the mining industry’s employee turnover problem through partnership

High employee turnover rates are a costly problem for almost every industry, including mining. What factors contribute to that cost? Let’s find out!

The truth is many companies don’t have a system in place to measure the cost of turnover because it would require the cooperation of many departments. At a mining operation, these departments might include Technical Services, HR, Operations, and Accounts. Not only is it difficult for these separate departments to cooperate, but add on the time requirements necessary to compile the relevant data, analyze it, then share it, and this feat becomes near impossible. 

Consequently, discovering the cost of turnover is more complicated than it seems. Most companies continue to do business without ever finding out how much turnover truly costs. Yet a brave few have studied the real cost of high turnover, and as you will see, it’s not only the dollar figure that’s startling but also the immense toll it takes on productivity, culture, and morale. 

What does employee turnover cost your business?

Although finding an exact dollar figure is complicated, some costs are more easily measured than others. For example, it’s pretty easy to measure the cost of advertising for a replacement role. These types of costs are simple enough to record and budget for. 

But it’s not the simple costs that are the most concerning. Costs that go beyond the financial and take a physical, emotional, and mental toll are just as worrisome. These include:

  • onboarding costs and fees
  • the time it takes for new hires to adjust to their roles
  • negative impacts on company culture 
  • site knowledge gaps

Onboarding costs north of $4,000 per hire 

Typical onboarding processes for a mining operation might include an orientation, a tour of the mine, provisioning of supplies, as well as ongoing training and close management for a few months after the start date. While the cost of talent acquisition varies from job to job, the average cost per hire is above $4,000

Some businesses invest more in their onboarding programs, which usually means lengthening their programs from a few months to a year. It’s important to note that while this does increase the cost and fees associated with bringing someone new to the team, this investment pays off in the long run. 

In fact, according to a study conducted by O.C. Tanner, a good onboarding experience can lock down 69% of employees for at least three years. So while you might pay more for a better onboarding experience initially, you’re saving by retaining good employees.

It takes years for new employees to become productive in highly technical roles

It’s rare to find a candidate that can hit the ground running with no training required for their new position. A new hire needs time to figure out how to execute their daily responsibilities, communicate with their team members, and establish relationships throughout the company. So it makes sense that less work gets done during this adjustment period.

It takes time, usually 6-12 months, for new employees to feel like they’re fully adjusted to the role and company culture. It can take even more time for them to become productive in a highly technical role, which is often the case in mining. 

New hires also tend to make a lot of mistakes. It’s only natural, especially if there’s a steep learning curve, but it still costs the business money. Sometimes it can even cost the business clients depending on the situation.

High turnover contributes to unhealthy company culture and burnout

Good company culture is hard to establish and even harder to maintain. High turnover rates can easily tarnish it. 

When turnover begins to impact company culture, you might notice other employees starting to talk about it amongst themselves. Most employees will want to find out why their colleagues have left the company. They might also be worried about their job now that there’s more work to be done and fewer people to do it. Inevitably, that extra work has to fall on someone’s shoulders. So it makes sense that they would wonder, will it be me? 

Let’s say it is the case that the existing team will have to pick up the slack until a replacement is found and trained. How efficient and productive can they be when they are working double-time to still meet production goals? This often creates an unhealthy culture of exhausted, stressed-out, frustrated employees who are on the verge of burnout and quitting their jobs.

Working at this pace not only contributes to a toxic culture, but also eats into profit margins from both the top and bottom. Productivity is negatively impacted for those employees that remain, yet the problem requires cash investment to secure more talent at the same time.

Vital site knowledge disappears when employees leave the business

Knowledge gaps are another ugly side effect of turnover problems. Every mine site operates differently for a myriad of reasons; maybe it’s due to the mining method, geology, or work culture. But given that every site is unique, the knowledge employees obtain from day to day is invaluable, specific, and often non-transferable.

Maybe it’s an intimate knowledge of local software workflows, or perhaps they are the ones maintaining a particular spreadsheet, and all work comes to a grinding halt when they leave. But, no matter the circumstances, when an employee quits and takes their knowledge with them, it adds to the cost of high turnover because it directly influences how others on the team get their jobs done.

All of the above costs prove why this is a major concern for the mining industry. So now, let’s attempt to nail down that cost as a number.

According to LinkedIn, a large-sized US business (with at least 10,000 employees) can expect a cost of $7.5 million with an annual turnover rate as small as just 1%! 

Even a turnover rate as seemingly insignificant as 1% translates to a cost so painful it becomes worth it to look for solutions. It simply makes good business sense to invest more in retaining your employees and keeping them happy. We’ll get more into detail on the solutions a bit further on, but first, you’re probably curious to know where you stand with your employee turnover rate.

How does your monthly turnover rate compare to the industry average?

Calculating your monthly employee turnover rate is fairly easy.

Staff turnover is defined as the number of employees who leave a business in a set amount of time. For this example, we’re calculating the monthly employee turnover rate. Follow along with the example below to find out how to quickly calculate this number for your business.

Start by finding out how many employees left your business during the month. Then divide that figure by the average number of employees who worked during that same month. 

Let’s say, for example, you had 2 employees leave during July. We’ll also assume the average number of employees who worked for you in July was 40. Divide 2 by 40 to equal .05. Lastly, multiply .05 by 100 to get your rate. In our example, we arrive at a 5% monthly turnover rate.

Take a moment to calculate your monthly turnover rate using the formula below.

Employees who left during the month
———————————————————– x100 = Monthly turnover rate
Avg. number of employees during the month


Is your monthly turnover rate above or below 3.12%? If your rate is greater and you’re in the United States, you’re experiencing a higher turnover rate than the mining industry average for 2021. This is most likely a sign that employee retention and engagement need to be improved. It’s also a sign of the current times. But the good news is there are solutions to this problem and the costs associated with it. 

Read on to find out how Maptek can help improve employee retention, eliminate these aforementioned drains on productivity, and ultimately reduce costs to your business.

A Maptek Services Partnership: The solution to turnover problems and costs

A Maptek Services Partnership provides you with expert geologists, mining engineers, and experienced trainers that can help develop a strong onboarding program that makes sense for your team and your site. 

The ultimate goal is to promote productivity and make your team members feel valued and engaged. If any technical problems arise during the onboarding process, our Maptek team will jump in and eliminate them before they become an issue that people quit over. 

These issues usually pop up within the first 6-12 months of a new hire’s training. Finding and eliminating these issues will help to lower your employee turnover rate by keeping your team happy.

Suppose high turnover is affecting your team’s morale and tanking productivity. In that case, a services partnership can help outfit your team with custom software tools, workflows, and training to make sure their jobs are easier. Providing the right tools and training is an important part of eliminating roadblocks to success and showing your employees that they are valued and not just a cog in a machine. 

In addition, our services team will find out what skills and abilities come naturally to each of your team members and develop custom workflows so that they can use them more productively. According to a Randstad US study, 69% of employees said they would be more satisfied if their employers better utilised their skills and abilities. A services partnership would provide you with concrete ways to do this, thus increasing job satisfaction amongst your team. 

If the turnover situation is really dire, a services partnership can even provide you with additional geologists, engineers, and trainers to help complete projects or provide day-to-day support. 

Due to the close nature of the partnership, these experts are not only well-qualified and equipped to jump in at a moment’s notice, but they also have knowledge of your site and its unique qualities. As a result, they can offer support and stability during hectic times, ensuring that important projects move forward and the rest of your team maintains a positive outlook. 

Now that you know your monthly turnover rate, you can compare it with the average for the mining industry. If it’s below the industry average, realize that you are doing great and that it’s always a good idea to continue checking in on it regularly. 

If your monthly turnover rate is above the average, know that there are solutions to the costly problem. Give yourself the time to find the right candidate without overworking yourself and your best employees while simultaneously hitting the company’s targets and goals. Book a free discovery call about Maptek Services Partnerships now.

Marisa Suarez
Marketing Communications Specialist
August 27, 2021

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