Work standards and behaviour are likely to improve simply because employees recognise this is a farm with high standards and so will work to meet those standards.
- Create a Farm Policy Manual where all farm policies and procedures are filed. Keep at least one copy in the farm dairy so all employees can easily access it.
- Draw up a template for each policy or procedure that can easily be filled in. Include a title, why the policy/procedure is needed/useful, whom it affects, when it is to be followed, what the policy/procedure is, and a space for comments.
- Get everyone in your team involved in creating the policies and procedures. 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.
- Policies that every farm should have are: Health and Safety, Code of Conduct, Animal Welfare and Effluent. Many other policies are also useful and include: Weed Control, Drug and Alcohol, Confidentiality and Equipment.
- Every farm needs 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.
- Use clear language that everyone can understand. They are there to clarify expectations and assist knowledge, not to burden people with extra responsibilities.
- The best policies and procedures are those your employees actually use - so keep them simple.
- Policies and procedures should be reviewed at least once a year to check they are still up to date. They should also be reviewed following any incidents or accidents which relate to a specific policy or procedure.
- 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.
Quick Questions & Answers
What is the difference between a policy, a rule and a procedure?
A policy is a guiding principle used to explain the "way things are done around here".
A rule is a statement about what to do, or not to do, in a specific situation.
A procedure is a series of steps to be followed to accomplish an end result.
Using effective policies and procedures together should empower your team to deliver great results and constantly improve on those results.
Developing a code of conduct for your farm will give employees a clear understanding of your expectations about behaviour.
Developing a farm policy manual will help ensure your employees understand the way you want to run your business.
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.
Learn more about performance management to get the best from employees.
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.