Keeping good existing staff in your business directly affects the profitability of your business. When good staff move on you are hit with costs such as the cost of recruitment, training, time etc, as well as the much bigger indirect costs of mistakes, loss of experience, loss of farm specific knowledge, loss of team morale etc. Holding onto good quality staff is easier than finding replacement good quality staff.
- Be up-front with your employee about how you value them highly and want them to stay on your farm.
- Discuss with each of your employees what their goals are and what makes them happy and satisfied at work. The answer might be family time, promotions, owning stock, stability etc.
- See what opportunities you can provide your employee/s that match what they want or need and deliver on these. Examples might include additional training and responsibilities, adjusting your roster to reduce average hours per week for an employee who values family time, offering calves and free grazing to an employee who wants to build a herd.
- Be flexible and think about adjusting your employee's terms and conditions and/or tasks and responsibilities. Remember that most people are realistic and although it might not be possible for you to offer a position of farm manager, offering some of the challenges that would be required in such a role might be possible.
- Communicate regularly with your employee/s and really involve them in the business so they feel ownership. Provide them with the best work/life balance you can. Living with balance is very hard for an employee, and even more so their family, to walk away from.
- Check how your employee is doing every 3 months (during quarterly performance review). If you really want to keep someone in the business create an open situation where they feel comfortable telling you when they need changes or new opportunities. This way you can be the first to provide this.
- Ensure your staff are valued and involved every day. Most of this is done simply by treating a person with kindness and respect.
- Career progression doesn't always mean a new job title, it could be that increasing skill levels is the next step up.
Quick Questions & Answers
How do I encourage my staff to stay beyond the end of the season?
Staff may move on to new jobs for a variety of reasons but the most common reasons for shifting are related to dissatisfaction with the current situation, or a better opportunity and often you can have an influence on these.
Offering a pay rise will often keep an employee for a short time, but if there were other reasons that were making them dissatisfied, such as: working conditions, team relationships, and the lack of a career pathway or training, and these remain unchanged, then the employee will still want to move on.
You need to talk with each employee and ask them what they want from their career, now and in the future. Find out what is really important to them. Make a plan together to help them work towards their goals and provide incentives for success.
By ensuring you offer great communication, fair or better remuneration, good rostering and a positive and encouraging workplace you can certainly make staff think twice before they leave!
Read more about staff planning, rosters, understanding people, remuneration strategies and maintaining team culture – getting these things right will help you retain employees.
Why retain quality people?
Personalities, attitude and trust play a huge role in work enjoyment so if you have a team or individual who really "fits" your farm, boosts morale and lets you sleep well at night this is probably translating into significant dollars added to your bottom line and a reduction in stress.
How do I gain a reputation as a good employer?
The first step is by being a good employer. This means providing fair and competitive remuneration, a good work-life balance (ideally 45 or less working hours per week), and on and off farm training opportunities.
In addition, it means communicating regularly and effectively with your employees - both listening to their input and letting them know your goals and expectations of them.
It also means ensuring that you provide the tools and resources to let your employees do their job. Good quality tools help ensure a good quality job.
Usually being a good employer will ensure you have a reputation as a good employer, but the networks you and your employees have will influence how far this reputation spreads. If you really want to be perceived in the community as a good employer you could consider mentoring others and networking, for example by attending DairyNZ workshops and field days, and encourage your employees to do the same.
How do I know the roster system is working for the farm and my team?
The best thing to do is ask your employees! Make sure you do this in a positive and open environment - one where they feel they can tell you the truth. The chances are high that someone will have a suggestion about how the roster could be improved or a comment that they are working too many hours.
Listen to all feedback carefully. Ask for suggestions on how your employees believe the roster could be improved realistically. Often this will result in some good ideas.
If there is a lot of conflict amongst the team then you can either try and facilitate a discussion or suggest meeting again in a week’s time, once you have had a chance to digest the information you have been given.
Changing a roster system to make it work better for your employees will in some cases deliver really positive results for your business, even if the total work hours are reduced. Happy employees often want to deliver a great result both for themselves and their employer.
When considering roster changes make sure you think about whether your business is currently achieving the required goals and how any changes to the roster will affect the farm performance.