Employee turnover rates over the last 12 months ranged from 11 percent to 44 percent for the majority of the 200 dairy farms included in the UW Cooperative Extension and UW Center for Dairy Profitability farm labor survey. The goal of the survey was to gather data about the farm labor market in Wisconsin. In particular, we wanted to learn about turnover rates and the current sources of labor.
Back to the results.
While there may be minimal cost in losing a new employee that doesn’t appear to be a good fit for your farm, most employee turnovers result in a substantial cost in recruiting, training, and added stress.
Finding new hires
We also asked dairy farmers where their new employees came from.
Labor coming from other local farms (within 30 miles of their farms) accounted for 46 percent of new hires in the last 12 months.
• 14 percent came from other local industries
• 12 percent were local and previously unemployed
• 29 percent were nonlocal hires
The argument has been made that dairy farms have to be increasingly creative and flexible in finding new employees, looking for nontraditional sources of labor, and be willing to accommodate their needs (such as schedule and transportation). Our survey results show some potential to attract employees from other industries and locations.
Providing greater benefit packages can also help your recruitment efforts.
As part of our survey, 52 percent of respondents made housing benefits available to some of their employees. Some sort of transportation benefit was provided to some employees by 17 percent of respondents, and another 25 percent of respondents offered health insurance benefits to some employees. Other respondents included phones, food, uniforms, or vacations as part of their benefit packages.
The more limited your financial resources, the more creative you must be. To get you started, I would ask you: “Do you know your employees well enough to be able to tailor a benefits package that is appealing to them and at the same time affordable to you?”