Recruiting, training, and retaining employees are a few of the most constant challenges a dairy may have. What works best to meet those needs varies between operations and between people. Two dairymen with decades of experience in employee relations shared their advice on the August 5 episode of Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream.
John Mueller, who orchestrates a team of 75 employees at Willow Bend Farm in New York, stressed finding ways to keep team members engaged with and excited about the farm.
One practical idea is to keep people challenged, growing, and evolving with new responsibilities. However, make sure they have the tools and skills to complete these jobs accurately. Mueller encouraged educational opportunities, like breeding classes or ultrasound school, for employees to develop those skills and understanding. This learning not only builds confidence in their skills but also a sense of value to the dairy.
Employees at Central Sands Dairy in Wisconsin realize their value because, as owner Gordie Jones put it, “Everybody at our place has to know their job. If you know your job, you’re happy.” Once a team member passes a test on their duties, they receive a raise and a certification. Growing people toward their next opportunity is the goal of the farm’s skill development, Jones explained.
With advanced skillsets, Mueller is an advocate of providing exceptional employees a piece of ownership. “If they’re really that good and part of your future, you give them some skin in the game,” he described.
Building an exciting future for employees can also be achieved by growing the business, Mueller added. This creates new opportunities for existing team members to advance or to diversify their experiences. Being a part of a change in the operation illustrates a positive outlook for the business and the employee’s part in it.
An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast will be on Wednesday, August 19 at 11 a.m. CST. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.