Ian Johnson, managing partner of Life’s Work Inc. has more than just fond memories of his days as a field supervisor and operations manager for the largest mining exploration contracting company in the west with crews scattered over B.C, the Yukon and North West Territories, he’s got the life lessons to go with it.
“Those were good years, hard-working years, and those lessons, in no small way, have set my path, my own life’s work, if you will.”
Johnson’s formative field experience propelled him to become a founder and the first CEO of Bema Gold Corporation, a great success story in Canadian mining. In recent years he has rounded out his experience as a psychotherapist helping families in general, and men in particular, to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world. Johnson’s business partner, Steve Miller, highly respected author, career specialist and Life’s Work’s senior trainer has designed and delivered career development and teambuilding workshops to thousands of individuals and institutions and corporations in Canada and Europe.
“It all stems back to those early working experiences”, says Johnson. “If your first real job is at a fast food joint, you take those experiences into your career. You learn to work hard, you learn to work fast and you might even learn the value of a buck. If, on the other hand, your first real job is on the rigs, or in the bush, or in a remote field location of any kind, the lessons are harder to come by, despite the lucrative paycheque.” Young workers are drawn to the patch for the money but often find themselves isolated from family and lonely for the comforts of home, which brings with it a whole other set of problems. Exploration and northern development companies in Canada know the challenges when it comes to retention and turnover. High employee turnover is a substantial threat to the business model and without delivering strategic workforce retention and preparedness training, resource companies increasingly expose themselves to real current and future risk.
“…managing employee turnover/retention was the top challenge reported by large (greater than 500 employees) companies. Reliance on compensation and benefits as an attraction and retention tool may not be sustainable in an environment with labour market imbalances”
“In a way it’s like going back to the beginning for me”, says Johnson. “I started as a bushrat in mining exploration and the lessons learned there taught me to become accountable for my career plans, to meet complex challenges and to work effectively in teams. Now, as I witness the robust economic cycle in a resources industry vastly more competitive than in my day, it’s obvious that the new generation of resource exploration and production workers need the mentorship and guidance of the previous generation, built into a proven training program that will help to turn the six month employee into a two year employee and the two year employee into a potential career employee. The benefits are both measurable (lower turnover, increased commitment, improved safety) and immeasurable (support, coaching and intervention) for employee and employer alike.”
Life’s Work’s WRAPT Program (Workforce Retention and Preparedness Training) is custom designed for the resource industry. Their managing partners bring extensive experience in career training, operational field staff management and counseling psychology training and application. The three-day WRAPT program gives participants a go-to workbook and a completed career plan map. Training facilitators are accessible to provide follow up counseling or intervention to revisit and reinforce the individual’s own plan. This proven method allows employees to achieve their personal and professional goals while ensuring that employers retain staff longer thereby enhancing the business unit’s commitment to production efficiencies, revenue objectives and competitive advantages.
Current demographic trends make it clear that the value of the loyal and productive employee is even greater now than in previous generations. As the baby boomers set sail for retirement, fewer people are entering the job market than leaving it. The resource sector will need to focus recruitment and training on non-traditional labour pools such as Generation Ys, women, First Nations and immigrants.
Life’s Work’s integrated approach has a proven record of serving these specific labour market segments in B.C. and Europe by dramatically exceeding targets specified by organizations such as the BC Employment Program (BCEP). Life’s Work’s registered program, developed in BC, is achieving similar results in other countries and is now available in French, Swedish, Dutch and Spanish.
In the greater scheme of things, when it comes to the resource industries, training, as far as Johnson is concerned. is the real gold mine. And he would know.
Learn more about the wrapt program details here.