My family’s dairy has had great luck and bad luck with employee turnover. We have had people work for us who I have known since I was in elementary school. Some have even moved to new farm locations with us as our herd expanded.
But, for all the wonderful employees we have had, we have also had our fair share of employees who quit or we had to let go because they did not fit well.
Whatever the situation may be, it seems like employee turnover and morale is something that a majority of dairy farmers have to deal with. I have not been a manager or boss of a dairy farm, but I have been an employee. Here are a couple of the things I have noticed that make me want to work harder and do better at my job
1. Ask me about my thoughts or ideas.
I mixed the TMR and fed our 2,000 lactating cows on my family’s farm. If production ever dipped, my older brother would come to me with questions about our current ration and how the TMR mixer was performing. Same goes for other areas like the parlor, reproduction, maternity pen, and so forth.
2. Give me educational opportunities or take me to industry meetings.
Invest in employee learning. Offer them on-farm English classes, subscribe them to dairy publications, and give them the chance to learn from other people in the industry. Also, allow employees to teach other employees. This will hopefully encourage lower-level employees to work harder and advance.
3. Work side-by-side with me.
I have been in situations where I was told what to do but not shown, and then I messed up or did the job wrong. I communicated with my boss and told them that I needed an example, but a lot of dairy employees struggle with a language barrier. It is probably always best to work side-by-side with employees when training them. They learn more, and they also see that you value them and the work they are doing.
Christy Achen is the 2018 Hoard's Dairyman summer editorial intern. She grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Kansas. Achen is currently a senior at Utah State University studying agricultural communications and journalism.