“The Quality Workplace Accord is a commitment to improving the work environment of dairy farms,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine.
“The overarching goal is to achieve quality work environments through helping farmers implement good people management practices.
“We need a positive reputation for employment practice and we need it now. We have to show our commitment to delivering that for the people who work in our industry and who are considering coming into it. This Accord is going to be a strong, visible and public commitment. The Accord will have deadlines and set out timeframes for meeting key targets around safety, legal obligations and remuneration policies.”
People as a key asset
“Good people management practices are critical to lifting our productivity and value as an industry. Providing evidence to others about how we are improving our performance will help on a number of fronts” says Mark.
“We need to attract the best people at all levels because we can’t farm competitively and responsibly without good staff. We have an industry strategy that says we want talented people and a world class environment. We need to show how we’re going to attain both of these important goals.
“Having an industry Accord will enable 12,000 diverse dairy farm businesses to be co-ordinated. This will make it easier for every farmer who wants better results from recruitment and retention of talented and professional staff.”
The management challenge
DairyNZ’s People Benchmark Survey from November 2013 indicates more than 90 percent of dairy farmers feel competent at staff management, although less than half actively enjoy it.
“This raises the challenge of how we lift performance when most of our farmers aren’t really happily engaged in that part of their businesses. If you’re not enjoying the people management side, then you are probably less likely to want to spend more of your time on doing it better. This is going to be challenging for the industry,” says Mark.
Across all regions in New Zealand, the survey showed the importance that managers place on farm staff is consistently higher than other operating components such as pasture, herd quality and infrastructure.
“That’s a positive sign that they value their staff and know how important they are to the success of the business,” says Mark.
Federated Farmers’ dairy industry group chairperson, Andrew Hoggard, agrees that improving workplaces is crucial.
“We recognise there’s a labour shortage. There’s a need to upskill people currently working in the industry, as well as making dairy farming an attractive career prospect.
“There are some really great employers and workplaces out there, but as an industry we need to improve. There’s no point in running a big campaign attracting people to dairying until we’re confident we’ve got a world class work environment to back it up.”
With increased scrutiny of the dairy industry, Andrew says it’s also important to take the initiative to set targets and make improvements to remove the need for increased regulation and surveillance.
Federated Farmers has already started their Employment Compliance seminars which will be held around the country, focusing on what the regulations will mean for farmers.
“Focus areas include employee contracts, minimum wage requirements, time keeping, staff accommodation and health and safety,” says Andrew.
The final Quality Workplace Accord will be available to dairy farmers on the DairyNZ website in May 2015.
Quality Workplace Accord
What is it about?
- Setting our industry targets and commitments around quality work environments, compliance of legal workplace requirements and staff wellbeing.
- Setting out what the industry is doing on the ground to ensure quality work environments.
- Deciding who’s responsible for contributing actions towards each target.
- Specifying the framework for reporting the industry’s progress against targets.
When will it be launched? May 2015