Heather Wildman, agricultural business consultant and change motivator, gives her top tips on retaining staff:
- 1. Give purpose and praise
For most people, being happy and fulfilled at work is not about the money, but about having a purpose, knowing what they need to do and why, and having the skills and training to successfully fulfil these responsibilities.
It also costs nothing to say ‘thank you’, ‘good job’, ‘well done’, but can make a person feel great.
- 2. Create a business to be proud of
This does not mean having the newest and most expensive facilities or equipment, but rather it’s about creating a business which employees are proud to say they work for.
This rests on the reputation of the business in the people/owners, in the management and welfare of the livestock, the care of the steading and its staff, land, machinery, environment, wildlife and interaction with the local community.
- 3. Value each team member
Individuals know where they fit into the team and how their job impacts the bigger picture, regardless of whether they are the relief milker, tractor driver, calf rearer, cleaner, contractor, manager or owner.
Everyone is part of producing what leaves the farm and this is must be recognised.
- 4. Give responsibility to enable impact
Staff have personal responsibility and are able to manage and impact their work and results.
Some people are happy to be told what to do and how and they consistently do this each day, while others need to be able to influence their work.
Get to know your staff’s work styles and fit them into the right roles and tasks.
- 5. Provide quality accommodation and facilities
Don’t underestimate how important this is if accommodation is provided.
It must be up to a standard you and your family would live in.
Some staff prefer to live in caravans to keep their overheads down, but find out their needs and don’t assume.
- 6. Ensure holidays and rest
Some people are happy to prioritise their job and work long hours so they can climb the ladder.
Others prefer to have set roles, few responsibilities and minimum hours so they can do their job, but then leave and switch off.
We need both, but beware of burnout for the keen beans and ensure holidays, rest and time off for all.
- 7. Have clear job descriptions and contracts
Before recruiting, review the business, what skills it needs, who might want to work more or less and whether that can be resourced from within the team.
Then ensure employment contracts and job descriptions so everything is clear.