Schlam Group’s people division provides highly skilled mechanical, fabrication and cleaning technical specialists to WA mining companies and with a boom in staff levels and a staggering 96.4 percent staff retention rate, it’s easy to see why it was named 2022 WA Employer of the Year in the RISE Business Awards and is the only mining company to be certified as a Great Place to Work®.
Schlam Cru are experts in equipment maintenance, rebuilds, shutdowns and high-pressure cleaning, providing services to mines right across the Pilbara and the Goldfields.
Executive General Manager Mat Rigby’s specialty is developing people and creating superior performance teams, and says its success depends on growing and supporting a high-quality, highly capable workforce to deliver the best service to its customers.
He explains the company’s business model and culture is a refreshing change for people within the industry.
“Ours is a friendly, welcoming and supportive culture with a people-first attitude and we're all for celebrating achievements and working together,” he says.
“Our purpose is to create the best possible environment for people to thrive, however for people to thrive, they must be working in jobs they love, jobs they’re good at, jobs where they can maximise their potential.
“It’s clear from our staff retention rate that employees want to work for and stay with a company that is willing to invest in their future and which fosters a culture of loyalty and commitment.
“And it really starts with selecting the right people, so the recruitment process is vital to our success.
“We’re not necessarily recruiting just on skill base and knowledge, but who's going to be a good cultural fit, and who's going to add value to the team from a holistic perspective.
“I often find myself looking more at the personality of the individual before the skillset and qualifications they have listed on their CV.
“We look for what they want out of life, out of a job, and make sure it’s not about living to work but finding a healthy work-life balance.
“Placing a candidate is just the starting point and once they’re part of the Schlam family, we support them better than anyone else.”
The company, which recently expanded into the Americas, has two divisions: Schlam Payload and Schlam Cru with a combined workforce of 500.
Schlam Cru enjoyed a team growth of 41 percent over 2022/23 coupled with an impressive 80 percent reduction in injury frequency and 98 percent reduction in Workcover costs, after dedicated health and safety improvements.
It’s a reflection of the company’s focus on staff health, recently extended even further with the implementation of its comprehensive wellness and benefits package, aimed at providing employees with options to improve their health and lifestyle.
Mr Rigby says providing greater opportunities for a healthy work/life balance, especially for its FIFO community is critical.
“It's not all about physical health,” he explains.
“We offer benefits like financial wellness; we've partnered with a financial advisor who provides educational talks on financial health around FIFO work.
“We have physical transformation packages with fitness training coaches, discounts on health insurance and even free skin checks among things on offer.”
A report commissioned by the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy in 2021 estimated a shortfall of 33,000 workers in the WA mining sector by the second part of 2023 and recruiting staff remains a challenge. It’s even harder when wanting to employ skilled trade workers.
It’s a challenge Schlam Cru is tackling with its Trade Upgrade Program with 32 employees qualified already, including 10 apprentices starting their careers and which has opened 80 positions to skilled migrants with 45 starting in the 2023 financial year.
Mr Rigby explains the program is aimed at filling the gap.
“You only gain a trade by doing an apprenticeship, and we all know that apprentice numbers have declined, especially over the last ten years,” he explains.
“Some of our Trade Upgrade people coming through the ranks, have done apprenticeships in other trades such as light vehicle mechanics or heavy road transport.
“And there's still need for those trades, as well, within the industry; I know car dealerships in Perth are screaming out for light vehicle mechanics.
“But the mining sector has a lot to offer them, and many are jumping at the chance to work for us because it’s a very quick way for them to advance their career and really maximise their earning potential.”
Schlam Cru aims to expand operations to 900 employees by 2026 and further enhance its Trade Upgrade and 482 Visa Sponsorship programs.
Mr Rigby says the division wants to become the best place to work in Australia and believes it can achieve that by continuing to focus business on its people, their individual goals, hopes and dreams and support them to ultimately succeed.
As published in November's of the WA Business News - Jobs of the Future Edition.