Whether it’s getting the right staff or keeping them, it’s highly likely you have lost one or many nights’ sleep worrying about people. Probably the biggest challenge to address is people – because every decision requires a person to make it and every action requires a person to do it. If you have skilled people making good decisions and motivated people taking good actions, our lives become more enjoyable, our businesses more profitable and our environments more sustainable.
Dairy farms have been primarily designed around the cow, but future farms will need to be designed around people so that we can attract and retain capable staff, increase the desirability of dairying as a career, enhance productivity and increase the safety and wellbeing of people and animals on-farm.
DairyNZ is working on a range of initiatives (outlined on the following page) to meet the sector’s workforce and workplace goals. These initiatives cover tools and resources farmers can use right now, working with partners and government to create workforce pipelines right through to identifying and researching innovative people-focused farm systems. You can find more information about them at dairynz.co.nz
DairyNZ has a significant role to play in making our sector a great place to work and contribute for all people and, as outlined above, we are committed to doing our bit. We ask you to do the same.
Great workplaces for a talented workforce: DairyNZ initiatives
Smart milking is about making milking as efficient as possible using proven research, technology, farm design and stockmanship. This project encourages farmers to understand their three key components of milking – farm infrastructure, people and cows – to improve their kilograms of ‘milk solids harvested per hour worked’ metric.
A dairy farm-specific programme built on the principles of 'Lean management’: doing things easier, better, faster and safer. Developed and owned by DairyNZ farmers who’ve completed the workshop series (delivered by trained consultants) and have become more efficient, improved their systems and engaged their teams, reduced work hours and saved money.
Identifying the gap
Providing tools to farmers so they understand what’s holding them back onfarm around their people and what might help. It’s also about ensuring our sector makes year-on-year improvements against the Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan, by detailing our commitment to quality workplaces on all New Zealand dairy farms.
Providing leadership and momentum for ‘Getting to Good’
Working with farmers and all possible channels to ensure dairy farm businesses know and meet their legal obligations – the focus in 2018 is on time recording, minimum wage and holiday and leave records, payroll systems and wellbeing, health and safety.
Providing knowledge and solutions for ‘Getting to Great’
Providing and/or connecting farmers to solutions which improve their people management capabilities and work environment. This includes the DairyNZ Roster Builder, our comprehensive webpages, workshops, People Expos, Workplace Action Plan (WAP) friends and our work within our regional teams and with training organisations.
Attracting and supporting talent
Working with schools from year 1 through to year 13 by having New Zealand kids, their teachers and career advisors exposed to the range of career options the sector offers through age-specific curriculum, teacher days out and experiences. We also mentor young adults who gain DairyNZ scholarships to study agriculture-related courses, work with industry training providers and ensure they have access to our tools and resources to assist their students in their on-farm roles.
Influencing labour market conditions
Working mainly with government and cross-sector initiatives (e.g. Growing NZ) to ensure the right information is used in developing policy. This will assist dairy to have access to the labour supply we need, e.g. by making submissions around immigration policy changes, employment legislation, working with the Ministry of Social Development and primary industry initiatives.
Supporting people through training
DairyNZ is heavily involved in the establishment, coordination and maintenance of professional and industry standards, including the certification of rural professionals, the Dairy Industry Standard Roles (DSIR) framework, certificates and diplomas.
Varying milking intervals
Dairy farmers generally work long hours, with a significant proportion on milking activities, and so variation to the standard twice-a-day milking can make for a better balance for people on-farm. For example, DairyNZ continues to look at the impacts of once-a-day (OAD) milking, and the production, profit, cow, environmental and people impacts of such a change.
New dairy farm systems
In the longer term, we want to test new systems to help achieve people productivity and efficiency without compromising profit. The aim will be to create knowledge and guide development of dairy farming systems focused on people, by being engaging and attractive workplaces with a reputation for innovation and vibrancy.
DairyNZ info and tools online
- dairynz.co.nz/milksmart – Milksmart
- dairynz.co.nz/planning – get started with your business planning
- dairynz.co.nz/WAP – creating a quality workplace
- dairynz.co.nz/farmtune – Farmtune® programme
- dairynz.co.nz/scholarships – dairy scholarships
- dairynz.co.nz/DISR – Dairy Industry Standard Roles framework
- dairynz.co.nz/OAD – once-a-day milking
- dairynz.co.nz/farm – farm systems
- dairynz.co.nz/immigration – recent changes/impact on dairy industry employers
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy April 2018