Does The Answer To Mineworker Harmony Lie In A Simple Mobile Phone?
The mining industry remains in the spotlight as it continues to feel the pressure of mounting internal and external factors that influence results, market economies and workforce relations.
There will always be external influences impacting the operating environment, and I’m no expert on those, so let’s focus our attention on workforce relations? How much strife could be avoided if we fixed this channel with a communication system that really works?
Mobile phones are prolific across Africa, regardless of demographic or type of phone, it’s a pretty solid and economical channel.
It’s also instant, uninterrupted, can be scheduled, and, of critical importance, it’s a two-way channel, giving employees the opportunity to talk back, give feedback and inform decisions the results of which impact them daily.
Communication with those at the coalface is still directed through shop stewards, team leaders and unions. And while mobile communication in no way usurps these channels, mines need to find a sustainable ways to communicate with their workforce on issues related to well-being, health, education, literacy, training, safety, living arrangements, work opportunities and security, amongst others.
In the enterprise, we call it social business, finding new and innovative ways to connect, inform, collaborate and ultimately innovate with a highly engaged and happy workforce. Such communication and collaboration technology tools, supported by carefully crafted strategies, can help mines inordinately.
Having a social business strategy with a platform that is compatible with lower end feature phones is the logical choice to target workers because of their widespread adoption and cost-effectiveness.
This direction allows mines to reach workers instantly and directly by broadcasting information in the form of announcements, polls and questions using mobile phones. What’s more, the intelligence captured, interpreted and discussed by the leadership team can be used to improve business processes, take preventative action or remedy a situation in a much quicker timeframe and fuel innovations.
I believe if Africa’s mining industry focuses on such strategies, the impact will be felt right where it counts, in healthy workforce relations and on the bottom line.