Looking after your labour

Published 19 December 12

looking after your labour

Labour costs form a significant portion of costs on larger farms. We asked a West Midlands and a Somerset dairy farmer milking an average of 700 cows each to describe how they get more from the men and women who work for them. DairyCo has a series of Employment templates available to download.  You can also look at enrolling yourself and your staff on the new professional development scheme Dairy Pro - register or find out more here

Here is a summary of their responses. 

How important is staff motivation and how do you achieve it?
It's very important - without it, staff won't do everything that's needed. By setting achievable targets, their achievements can be measured against those targets and then recognised through rewards.And make sure they have enough time off for relaxation.

How important is training and Continuing Professional Development for staff?
Very - staff are sent on relevant courses.They need to be correctly trained and the training refreshed each year to ensure they are kept aware of the current best practices in the industry.

Man management - how is it done on your farm?
A manager to staff ratio of 1:6. Layers of management don't have to exist but where they do it has to be a clear structure communicated to all staff, thus ensuring everyone takes responsibility for their own roles within the structure. Communicate succinctly, verbally and in writing. Regular one-to-one chats plus group sessions work well.

Do you look at what makes different people tick, to communicate/motivate them?
Yes, because what motivates some will not motivate others. Unless you understand what motivates each individual, you cannot help them achieve what is required.

Do you use protocols/SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and do you think they are important for good communication?
Yes. This can be a very important communication tool, particularly with staff of different nationalities and levels of competence working in teams together.

How do you get buy-in for targets?
Targets need to be visible so we are working towards the same goals. Meeting targets shouldbe an integral part of how staff are managed and rewarded. A combination of praise and, if necessary, reprimand, gives a clear signal.

Some people just use staff to harvest milk and that is where it ends.  Do you think they are missing a trick?
Absolutely.  Of course, some staff are only motivated to harvest milk and have no interest in doing anything else, but those who show initiative and a desire for more should be allowed to grow - or you end up losing them.

DairyCo has a series of  Employment Templates available to download and you can also look at enrolling yourself and your staff on the new professional development scheme Dairy Pro - Register Here