Staff shortage isn’t a new issue for dairy farmers, however this issue has been amplified in 2021 by low unemployment rates and border restrictions. Here is some realistic advice and options:
Retain your staff
Every year approximately 5000 people leave the dairy sector. This turnover rate is similar to other sectors however if we are able to retain 10% of these employees it will have a huge impact, especially because these people already have skills.
What do your employees value in a job?
A good job is important to everyone but a good job can look very different for different people.
Find out what your current employees value and see if you can offer it. Find out what motivates each employee and ask what it would take to get them to stay. Think outside the box and challenge your own mindset as to what might be possible.
“Our staff are our biggest asset, so we need to look after them”
Make your farm an awesome place to work
Research from kiwi dairy farmers has shown that making positive changes to rosters, increasing wages and offering development opportunities helps to retain staff. You can also check our Milksmart page to learn more about simple changes to milking routines that will improve your milking efficiency. Less time in the shed can result in happier staff.
You can help attract kiwis to your farming roles by offering competitive packages and becoming known for your great workplace culture where people love to work.
Cast your recruitment net wider
Think differently about how you recruit people. The unemployment rate is low but the under-employed (that is those who could work more hours) rate is much higher. Some recruitment avenues also have a lot of support available:
Training / apprenticeships
Vocational training is currently fully subsidised (free). Career progression is important to most people, so consider how you could support people in achieving their goals and promote this when advertising. We want dairy to be a place of continual learning.
There are support packages available when recruiting Work and Income clients. The packages help these people to get the skills required of the job. This support can include training and in-work support as well as a contribution towards wages.
Consider the under-employed in your local community
In every community there are people who could work more. This group is more likely to start as part time or casual but they can fill important roles in your team. Think creatively about who these people are in your community and how you could encourage them to come and work for you.
Consider the not working who could help part time
In most communities there are groups of people who could assist if the job was changed slightly in either scope or hours, typical examples are the retired and students. These people are likely only able to commit to part time work, but they can become important parts of your farm team.
Employ migrants already in NZ
There are a number of people currently in NZ on various visa types but most commonly working holiday visas. This visa type allows people to work but not in a permanent job.
Talking Dairy podcast
Looking for ideas on how to recruit and retain good staff for your farm? We sat down with Jane Muir, DairyNZ’s lead advisor – people, to discuss this topic in our latest Talking Dairy podcast.