8 October 2013

New research has found that high salaries are no longer enough to retain good workers in remote locations.

More often, fly in-fly out (FIFO) workers require personal space and quiet time to communicate with family and friends to boost their wellbeing and job satisfaction, according to a study released by The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).

The six-month study, supported by funding from SPOTLESS Integrated Services, explored factors influencing the retention and wellbeing of FIFO workers in the resources sector, and found that people wanted 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,” said Mary Anne Barclay from the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM).

“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,” Ms Barclay said.

Ms Barclay, who led the research with the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre’s (MISHC) 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 per cent of respondents held a university degree and 40 per cent were female,” Associate Professor 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.

The full report can be found here.

Media: Sustainable Minerals Institute Communications Manager Anna Bednarek Tel: +61 7 3346 4233 E: a.bednarek@uq.edu.au


The Sustainable Minerals Institute is made up of seven research centres whose disciplinary roots lie in people, environment and production. Established in 2001, the Institute’s research covers all facets of mining from exploration to site rehabilitation. The Institute has approximately 350 staff including 100 postgraduate students. For more information go to http://www.smi.uq.edu.au/