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To empower its people, Santos is trialling a nine-day fortnight opportunity for its Port Moresby employees as part of a conscious effort to enhance staff wellbeing, productivity and retain talent.

The global energy company which employs nearly 200 full time employees (not inclusive of contractors) in its Port Moresby Office, is one of the first major firms to introduce a Flex Friday in Papua New Guinea as part of a 6-month trial which commenced on 19 January.

Santos People & Culture Manager PNG, Ms. Jacqueline Waka recognises that this is one of the many types of benefits on offer that will contribute to yielding greater results. “We’re already seeing higher productivity and greater morale from a reenergised workforce,” says Ms Waka.

“The measure of any successful business depends not only on how good its people are but also in its continuing ability to retain them. This is where I see Santos having a competitive advantage as we meaningfully look after our people, and we do this quite well. Santos is deliberate about what is important for our people and this support is extended to their families as well.”

We recognise that to deliver inspirational outcomes consistent with our vision, we need exceptional people who are focused, entrepreneurial, energised and disciplined to leave a positive legacy.”

Currently Santos offers a wide range of benefits from extensive medical care, insurance, education assistance, generous study, and recreational leave packages, a first-home ownership scheme to empower its local workforce and more recently, a Flex Friday. In Port Moresby, the Flex Friday trial will run from 19 January to 5 July 2024 and if proven successful, a nine-day fortnight will be pioneering for the company and its workforce in the country.

“We have a purpose and vision to provide reliable and affordable energy that can help create a better world for everyone and to be one of the safest, most reliable operators in the world. At Santos we are also quite passionate about improving the living standards in the communities where we operate. We recognise that to deliver inspirational outcomes consistent with our vision, we need exceptional people who are focused, entrepreneurial, energised and disciplined to leave a positive legacy.”

“We understand the benefits that working flexibly can bring to our employees who need to own and drive this vision forward for our business and local communities,” says Ms Waka.

Santos Managing Director, Kevin Gallagher explains how Santos built its own nine-day fortnight model after studying models globally. Port Moresby is now implementing the model following the success of the Flex Friday trial for nearly 2,500 of Santos’ Australian office-based employees in 2023.

“Our people work really hard in a tough industry, and it’s really about allowing them some rest and recovery time on an ongoing basis as well as to empower our people to choose what works best for their work, personal life, or mental health. If we can have a better retention record than the rest of the industry then that’s a competitive advantage for us,” says Mr Gallagher.

Flex Friday is a flexible work option that allows all full-time residential employees based in Port Moresby to compress their working hours into a nine-day fortnight and enjoy the benefit of every second Friday off with no impact to their salary or leave entitlements.

Operational expenditure cost analyst Richard Mark is one such employee.

Richard has been with Santos for six years and currently provides financial analysis and cost control support to asset operations and maintenance. “With the introduction of Flex Friday, this has taken planning to another level,” he says. “It’s been interesting to see how the compressed working hours have resulted in greater cross-functional interface and performance as colleagues become more synced in terms of completing tasks or deliverables knowing they have every second Friday off.

“I’m also thankful to Santos for providing transportation for staff every morning and afternoon because that allows colleagues to get to work early given the compressed hours. Our leaders have been very supportive too which is why Flex Friday has been embraced. It is a conscious choice so I must earn it to enjoy it.”

On his first Flex Friday, Richard surprised his son Damien on his 12th birthday with a boat cruise. “The boat cruise with my family was something I had not done in a long time, and it was really special.”

Communications Officer Jessica Nomoru is another participating employee. The proud mother of two-year-old daughter Lalainiah will reach her five years’ service anniversary with Santos in February.

“You thrive in a positive environment where the culture empowers and challenges you on a daily basis. This is what we have at Santos. Thanks to Flex Friday, I feel more empowered knowing I can achieve more of my personal goals whilst equally focusing on my work. I also have plans to learn a new skill that may benefit my career,” she says.

Business Development Adviser David Gonohopo has seen an evident increase in efficiency since the introduction of Flex Friday, as an individual worker and in his business development and local content team. “I feel more energetic as I am driven by the thought of a Flex Friday. I know I can attend to personal errands and access services that are not open on weekends. Most importantly, it gives me an extra day to be with my family. Thank you to Santos and our management team for this unique benefit.”

Santos Country Chair PNG, Leon Buskens has always been a strong advocate for greater staff welfare and encourages work/life balance at every opportunity so when the concept of a Flex Friday was introduced in Adelaide and Brisbane, it had to happen in Port Moresby as part of our broader workforce offering.

“We are quite fortunate to have some of the best people who not only contribute significantly to the success of Santos, but they also consciously give back to their communities. We need our people to perform at their best and they can only do so with adequate rest and relaxation. If our people are happy and motivated, they can make a positive difference and passionately pursue our vision.”