The people working in our farming businesses are vital to our future success as an industry – and our dairy farms need to be enjoyable, safe and rewarding places for them to work.
Having a quality workplace will allow you and your team to focus on delivering great results for the farm. Everybody in the team has a part to play, and as an employer there are different things you can do every day to impact the workplace positively.
Expand each of the sections below to see some tips that can help get you started.
Employer tips for a great quality workplace
Balanced and productive work time
- Ask the team to fill in timesheets on a regular basis and assess what you can do to take out inefficient jobs. Click here for more information on timesheets
- Ensure you have the most efficient roster for the farm and that the roster works for your team. Click here for more information on rosters
- Ask employees what they like to do outside of work, do their work hours allow them to enjoy their spare time and social activities?
- Try and give lots of advance warning of when people are rostered off, and stick to it. This allows people to plan things outside of work.
- Save yourself time by having one place to share information, like a team meeting so people know what’s going on. Click here for more information on getting organised
- Create confidence by delegating jobs to people, remember to be clear about What you need done, When you need it done by and Why you need it done.
- Ensure your team have the skills to do the job. See the different roles skills, knowledge & attributes here.
- Here’s a checklist to get your key compliance requirements ticked off:
- Accommodation discussed and in a formal agreement
- Employment agreements in place for every employee including casuals/relief staff and family
- Clearly explain all parts of the employment agreement to employees
- Hours recorded by everyone and regularly reviewed
- Hours checked to ensure pay is fair and at least minimum wage
- Pay and leave is recordedin an orderly fashion and can be referred to if needed to explain to the employee
- To work out the maximum hours someone can work over their pay period use the minimum wage calculator. Click here to find the minimum wage calculator
- Try keeping employee timesheets in a place where everyone goes, e.g. the dairy diary and start this from day 1.
- Make it easy - consider a payroll system/app to record hours worked, leave taken, holidays taken and wages paid.
- Sometimes people don’t realise the value of non-cash benefits like half a beast so talk them through their whole pay packet or total package value (TPV). Click here for more information on salary and wages
- Clarify your expectations and promises by ensuring handshake agreements are followed up with employment and tenancy agreements. Tenancy agreements are available on line. Click here for template
- “Pay in the hand” works out to be a lot less than what some employees might assume. Explain tax and other benefits to your employees in monetary terms so they can compare fairly against other jobs/industry. Click here for more information on salary and wages
- Conduct regular performance reviews to ensure employees know what they need to improve on, what they are doing well and what the next step would be for them in their dairy career. Click here to find the right performance review for your meeting.
- Here’s a checklist to get your key compliance requirements ticked off:
Health, safety and wellbeing
- Get on top of safety, make a plan, manage hazards, know your emergency plan, ask for employee input and consider safety with every farm decision you make. Make sure to explain all of the above to your employees. Click here to grow your health and safety knowledge
- You can enforce the wearing of PPE (personal protective equipment), e.g. helmets.
- Create fitness initiatives, e.g. as a team let’s complete a triathlon or complete a 5 km run. Click here for more initiatives and ideas
- Spend time with employees one on one so they feel comfortable discussing any issues such as harassment or bullying. Know what constitutes bullying and harassment. Find out more here.
- Deal with complaints promptly so people can see you take them seriously; keep in mind even minor things can affect people.
- A few weeks before a new tenant moves in, do a quick check, “would I live here?” and fix anything that needs fixing. Click here and look at page 25 for information on employees accommodation
- Get employees to help you select PPE like, helmets, sunscreen, gloves, ear muffs; this will encourage them to use it.
- Make a smooth transition for new employees by putting them in touch with groups such as New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) or other farm employees that they may have something in common with.
- Farm get-togethers help new employees get to know existing staff and their families. Take a look here for more information on Wellbeing
- Make safety your first talking point at meetings and ask each person something they noticed this week that had a safety implication, to illustrate that safety is everybody’s responsibility. Consider employee suggestions about safety, and if no action is required reiterate how important it was that they raised it in the first place.
- If you have someone that has an addiction problem, raise it with them, they may not be aware of its impact.
- When advertising for new employees, mention that you will complete drug and alcohol testing, you will find that people will self-select themselves out. Click here for more information on how to select the best person
Effective team culture
- Have a planning day to set your goals and strategy for the farm. Get DairyNZ QuickPlan to assist you with this.
- Ensure everyone on the farm knows how their job contributes to the overall farm goals. Click here for more information on getting organised
- Try a variety of communication methods, e.g. one on one, informal chats, team meetings, team get-togethers, formal reporting etc.
- Develop employee strengths in different areas so they can become an expert and leave you more time to do other tasks.
- Ask your team for feedback on how you can improve as a leader. At meetings make sure to listen and take time for employee ideas, feedback and suggestions. This will show staff that you respect them and the job they are doing.
- We are all different, so discuss with your employees how they best learn, are best delegated to and how they like to receive feedback.
- Be fair “Fairness does not mean that everyone gets the same, fairness means everyone gets what they need (to succeed)” Rick Riordan
- Ask individuals what their career goals are and help them succeed with these. Click here to learn more about career pathways
- Understand what motivates your employees e.g. financial rewards, compliments, general feedback, training etc. and remember that people will be motivated by different things.
- Encourage employees to come along with you to discussion groups to network, share ideas and increase their farm knowledge. Find the next discussion group for you and your team here.
- Tailor communication to your employees preferred learning style, Kinesathetic, Auditory or Visual. Click here for more information on learning styles
- Try and link employees with mentors that they can learn from and who can help them in their dairy career. Click here to register your interest
Become a Friend of the Workplace Action Plan
All farming businesses are invited to become Friends of the Workplace Action Plan: find out more here or sign up below.