“Like any bosses, rural or urban, dairy farm employers know full well that without good employees their businesses would struggle, and in some cases go to the wall.”
Ms Muir is making her comments leading up to Farm Worker Appreciation Day on Monday (August 6). “The day is an American invention, but I’m all for adopting it here so Kiwi farm employers have a special day to celebrate their employees – maybe with morning tea or a pizza lunch, or an early finish to the working day.”
Apart from doing something special for staff on Monday, Ms Muir says Farm Worker Appreciation Day is a reminder to employers to do the best by their staff every day of the year.
She says any employee, no matter the business they are in, will feel more valued when they are paid fairly and have good work-life balance – ‘and their boss, quite simply, says thank you for a job well done’.
Also high on her list for employers is having conversations with staff – tuning into them as individuals. “Take an active interest in your employees – know what appeals to them and motivates them, ask them what their goals are, and take the time to upskill them in areas they are keen about, as well as listening to their ideas and implementing them if they are good, or giving constructive feedback if the concept isn’t suitable or needs further work.”
Recent statistics put the number of people working on dairy farms in New Zealand at 36,000, with approximately 50 per cent employees, 45 per cent business owners, including farm owners, sharemilkers and contract milkers, and the remaining unpaid family members.
On farm employee roles range from entry level dairy assistants to operations managers. Dairy assistants help in a variety of ways including with feeding and caring for animals, milking, and assisting to ensure the farm is environmentally well managed. Operations managers have a strategic role, sometimes across several farms, with direct responsibility for returning farm or shareholder profits and sustainability. In between there are herd manager, assistant manager, and farm manager positions.
Ms Muir says DairyNZ provides a range of information for employers, including some practical tools like an annual leave calculator, templates for training and reviews and a guide to choosing a payroll system.
“While these have been developed for dairy farm businesses, where people are the first step in the journey that produces some of the foods we love the best, any employer will find them useful.”
For details go to www.dairynz.co.nz/people/employer
Senior communications and media advisor
Ph 027 211 2159