BHP gives staff 3.5% pay increase annually – how to compete for talent with the big end of town

Under a new workplace agreement, the lowest paid employee at BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi’s Hay Point coal terminal will earn just under $100,000 a year by 2016, but experts say small businesses can still compete for talent.

BHP employees at the coal terminal will receive above-inflation pay rises and qualify for a $2000 bonus just for going to work, according to The Australian Financial Review.

According to the new deal, approximately 125 workers at the coal terminal will receive an annual pay rise of 3.5%, significantly above the current inflation rate of 2.2%.

The deal was negotiated by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the Australian Manufacturing Union and the Communications Union and was agreed to by employees just before Christmas.

SmartCompany contacted BHP Billiton, but received no comment prior to publication.

A BHP Billiton spokesperson told The Australian Financial Review the deal was aimed at rewarding improvements in the railing and shipping areas.

“In terms of the productivity improvements in the agreement, the bonus scheme has been modified to better balance and reward both delivery and improvement in the railing and shipping areas,” the spokesperson said.

Deals such as this make corporates attractive options for employees looking to earn big dollars, but founder of The Physio Co and SmartCompany workplace blogger Tristan White says small businesses can still compete.

“One of the advantages of small business is in a small business you’re closer to both the CEO and senior management. They’re the ones that set the culture and the strategy and management tactics of a business, and being closer you can be much more influential and get more recognition,” he told SmartCompany.

“Because of the closeness to the business’s leadership, there is more responsibility outside of your original job description and you can learn other aspects of the business aside from what you originally signed up for.”

White says this can give employees a broader skillset and make them more attractive as potential job candidates in the future.

“The most significant reason why you’d choose a small business is you get a more diverse skill set and you’re exposed to areas of the business you’d never be exposed to in a bigger company. You’ll get extra skills for the CV and discover new things you’re good at,” he says.

“Small businesses are also often fast-growing, and while there can be some compromises, the excitement and challenge can be an exciting ride and can be really beneficial to your career.”

White says small businesses should emphasise the rewarding nature of being part of a growing company.

“In the first few years of business it can be hard to compete in terms of salary, but if the team members understand this and commit themselves to the journey, not only are there salary increases, but the reward and recognition of team members increases too,” he says.

“Our business The Physio Co gets involved in graduate career shows at universities. It’s an opportunity to present and inform the grads of what the opportunities are, but one of the most powerful things a small business has is its vision.”

White says this can be particularly attractive to young employees.

“Share that vision with potential employees. Big businesses may have the brand name, but when recruiting include a personal story to help attract people,” he says.

“Small businesses do have the story of the grad who started four years ago and is now a team leader. By sharing that you can attract the right kind of people.”

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