Using effective policies and procedures together empowers your team to deliver great results and constantly improve on those results. The best policies and procedures are those your employees use - so keep them simple.
What’s the difference?
- A policy is a guiding principle used to explain the ‘way things are done around here’.
- A procedure is a series of steps to be followed to accomplish an end result.
- A rule is a statement about what to do, or not to do, in a specific situation.
Use them to:
- Set expectations for behaviour and how tasks should be completed.
- Train new staff about your farm system or the infrastructure operation.
- Ensure your employees understand the way you want to run your business.
- Refresh existing staff on how to complete seasonal or uncommon tasks.
- Refer to during disciplinary procedures.
Draw up a template for each policy or procedure. Include a title, why it is needed or useful, whom it affects, when it is to be followed, what the policy or procedure is and include a space for comments.
Create a Farm Policy Manual where all policies, procedures and rules are filed. Keep at least one copy in the farm dairy so all employees can easily access it.
Get everyone in your team involved in creating the policies, procedures and rules. They will have some great ideas, it will save you time, and most importantly it will help everyone to feel part of the process, meaning people are more likely to live by the outcomes. Use clear language that everyone can understand.
Every farm needs:
Written policies for Health and Safety, Code of Conduct, Animal Welfare and Effluent. Other useful policies include Weed Control, Drug and Alcohol, Confidentiality and Equipment.
Written procedures for key tasks such as effluent management, mastitis control, managing lameness, calving, milking (including vat cleaning, chilling and pipework), pasture management and supplementary feeding.
A basic set of Farm Rules which can be decided on by the whole team and displayed on the dairy wall. These rules help the team keep one another accountable and make it easier to raise health and safety concerns in team meetings.
- Most generic employment agreements regularly refer to the employer’s ‘farm policies’. If you do not have documented farm policies, there may be gaps in your employment agreements which could work against you during disciplinary procedures.
- Policies and procedures should be reviewed at least once a year to check they are still up to date. Specific policies and procedures should also be reviewed following any incidents or accidents which relate to them.
- Get into the habit of reviewing and discussing (or writing if you don't have them) a policy or procedure at your weekly staff meeting or monthly staff discussion. It gives you something to focus on, provides learning and will encourage ownership.
How do I ensure everyone working and living on the farm follows the farm rules?
Ideally farm policies or rules are discussed during the recruitment process and a written copy is given to the successful applicant along with the employment agreement. This should also refer them to the farm policy manual for further information. This will mean potential employees know your expectations upfront and will help deter those who have a different view of the world to you.
Regular reviewing and discussing of your farm rules, allows people to have them front of mind. If people are simply not following the agreed policies or rules, then you can follow a performance management process or a disciplinary process if the breaches are serious.
If you have issues with people not following rules, and you currently have no system in place to deal with this, then your best option is to meet with your employees and develop a farm policy manual. Communicate your expectations clearly and ensure they are understood, but also ensure others have the opportunity for input. If your team feel part of the process you are much more likely to be successful in achieving your goals.