With the rising cost of labor and the declining number of people willing to work on dairies, Viterbo University’s Tom Thibodeau suggested farmers need to embrace a culture of caring on the farm.
What does this mean?
At the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin annual meeting, Thibodeau broke down his keys to creating and keeping a culture of caring on your dairy farm.
- Once a mission is personal, it’s powerful.“Everyone has to understand that they have to be part of it,” he explained. “You cannot mandate a caring culture; you can only invite it in.”
- If the leaders don’t care, the people don’t care. The culture of a farm truly comes from the top, and if employees watch an owner cut corners, how likely is it that they will do the same? Thibodeau said it this way, “Each of us are stewards of a legacy we haven’t created for ourselves. People have created a culture that’s now ours.”
- You have to build an assessment. How do you celebrate achievement? How do you listen to your employees and make strides toward a better working environment?
- We’re building pyramids, not sandcastles. This process is by no means one that happens overnight, and if it is to have staying power, it requires investment. “Everything we have is because people have sacrificed in the long term,” Thibodeau said. “Create the vision and then serve the people so they can get there as well.”
The easy thing to do is to raise pay to attract good employees, but that alone doesn’t hold the power to keep them. As Thibodeau put it, “Sixty-six percent of our lives are spent at work, and culture eats strategy for lunch.” What does your culture say about your farm?