Designing future dairy workplaces
Future dairy workplaces will need to be attractive places to work so that people with character and competence want to choose a dairy career. But what makes a workplace attractive is constantly changing and is influenced by a variety of factors, both on and off farm.
We are working with farmers co-developing solutions that work for farmers, as well as actively researching the impact and performance of people management and workplace solutions.
The main objectives of the New Workplace Design project are:
- To co-develop on-farm solutions that make dairy farming more attractive and productive for people to work.
- To identify future solutions for dairy workplace design by examining best practice and technology from a wide range of workplaces and apply them to a dairy context.
- To determine the productivity potential and features of future workplaces.
Answering these questions will give farmers greater certainty about the value associated with investing in different approaches to people management. They will also have more insight into which approaches fit their context, and how they can implement them on-farm.
The farmer co-design team
We have been conducting research into the expectations of a future workforce, and the major trends which will impact on farm workplaces. The cornerstone of the project is a farmer co-design team of nine farmers, DairyNZ staff and other stakeholders, based in Canterbury.
Along with a skilled facilitator, the co-design team has been considering the future trends and expectations, and working to develop and test some innovative approaches on-farm. The group has been working with a facilitator and people management experts to co-design innovative workplace solutions that go beyond the here and now and are relevant to 2030. The focus is on creating solutions that increase the attractiveness and productivity of dairy farm workplaces.
Ideas are being tested, redeveloped, and piloted on farm. The group is learning about international and domestic trends, and benefitting from the expertise of other industries and organisations leading the way in workplace practices.
What have we found?
- New Zealand’s workforce is aging, and will have a greater proportion of young Māori, Pasifika and Asian people. There’ll be more part-time employees in future. As such, dairy workplaces must be designed to attract and embrace this diverse mix.
- Technological change is automating tasks, providing better information for on-farm decision-making, and enhanced learning methods. Sensor and automation technology have already made an impact on Kiwi farms. Future dairy farmers will need to use novel technologies to their advantage.
- Job tenures will shorten, and dairy employees will prefer variety in their careers. Farm workplaces will need to allow for people moving in and out of our sector, rather than fighting this trend1. Our future employees could include career changers, urbanites seeking a farming lifestyle, and casual employees. These people will quickly need to connect with farming values and understand that they work at the start of a food value chain.
- Job flexibility is becoming more common including casual and short term ‘gig’ work and the physical location of work. For example more people are working from home and for companies like Uber. Farmers need to adapt their farm system, such as by changing milking time and frequency, to access ‘under-employed’ people who may only work for parts of the day, or on certain tasks (e.g. non-physical).
- Demand is growing among young staff for ongoing learning and upskilling through virtual and remote methods, such as using short video tutorials
Are you interested in being involved in DairyNZ’s exciting people management research project? We’ve created a community of interest group which you could be part of.
- Innovate and develop leading workplace practices that solve dairy farming workplace issues
- Generate and bounce ideas with people management experts and likeminded farmers
- Gain exposure to the latest workplace practices
Interested in the project?
There are a variety of other ways you can be involved, or we can keep you in the loop with updates from the project, let us know at email@example.com and we’ll keep you engaged!