How to make your farm a more attractive place to work

Dairy farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to find and hold onto farm labour for their dairy farm.

The demand for labour is huge and changes are going to have to be made – on some farms – if farmers are going to make their farm a more attractive place to work for farm employees.

Dairy farmers have made improvements in many aspects of their farming systems, but one area that is limiting – on many farms – is that of people management skills.

In light of this, Teagasc has compiled a list of people management tips that will, it says, improve staff attraction and retention for dairy farmers.

These top tips include:
  • Be fair – put yourself in their shoes;
  • Vary the tasks;
  • Don’t point the finger;
  • Make the tasks easier and more enjoyable;
  • Incentivise time off – it’s not all about money;
  • Explain clearly why you want the task performed in such a way;
  • Let go – give responsibility;
  • Create time so that you can communicate with staff;
  • Have a set start and finish time;
  • Find out what is important to your employees (e.g. to finish early on a Thursday evening).

Improving your people management skills will help to keep labour, but the employee has to be attracted to the farm in the first place.

If the facilities aren’t up to scratch or the milking routine is taking hours on end, this is only going to deter people from working on your farm.

Simply being organised and having a tidy yard is a good place to start. Then, if your facilities are in need of an upgrade, this should probably be looked into.

Finally, people aren’t going to work for nothing anymore. These days, if you want good farm labour that will last you’re going to have to pay for it.

The competition for labour is too big now and if your facilities are poor and you’re not willing to pay a decent wage, you are going to be in a difficult situation if you’re trying to find farm labour.