The couple, who manage two full-time staff and a casual employee during calving, had a ‘light bulb’ moment six years ago as new sharemilkers at their current job.
Bryce and Amanda were managing staff for the first time and attended a Primary ITO rural staff management course, which prompted changes.
“We looked after our staff but it really opened our eyes to what we could do better,” says Amanda.
Two areas they chose to focus on were staff hours and job descriptions.
For Amanda, processing time sheets was time-consuming, so the couple looked at alternatives and settled on a clocking system. Staff members simply clock in and out using a system that reads their thumbprints and sends the information to a computer programme to be collated.
“Come pay day, it's just a very quick look at the hours – it has saved a lot of time,” says Amanda.
Roster creates solutions
A roster has also made a difference, giving everyone consistent time off year-round.
“Like many dairy farmers, we thought if the staff’s hours averaged out over the year, that was fine,” says Amanda.
“Now we run a roster which is 10 days on and three off. Then seven days on and one day off. The roster runs all year round, even during spring, which is when we get another employee in.
“It means staff are fresh and eager to come to work, and it has also allowed us to have every third weekend off as a family.”
Employment agreements undergo facelift
“We originally included a short job description in employment agreements, but it didn’t give our staff a detailed picture of what good looks like,” says Amanda. “So, we developed a comprehensive job description which gives staff a better idea of what is expected.”
Staff development is also important, with two employees completing a modern apprenticeship through Primary ITO.
“We take the opportunity to sit down with our staff and work out their training needs. We do our best to put them in a situation where they can be with someone to learn or just get a bit of experience around a particular area,” says Bryce.
The couple enjoy seeing their staff doing well, with several going on to bigger and better things.
Former staff still come back to see them. Some have gone on to their own sharemilking jobs and continue to grow, says Bryce.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy October 2014