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Meetings Seek Solutions To Farm Employment Issues


Meetings Seek Solutions To Farm Employment Issues

Dairy farmers are being given the opportunity to decide where they need more help when it comes to employing and retaining staff on their farms.

ATR Solutions is conducting a series of meetings throughout February, March and April as part of an initiative to improve dairy farming employment practices.

ATR Solutions stands for Attract, Train and Retain, and Director Shaun Wilson says the initiative has evolved from working in the dairy promotion and recruitment sector for a number of years.

"We found that it is hard to stand up and talk to people about the benefits of dairy farming and agriculture if we can't prove it's a quality career."

He says Dairy InSight's 'Let's Talk Dairying' promotional programme has heightened awareness of dairy farming and it has also created a greater need for improved practices.

"Dairy InSight has been aware throughout its 'Let's Talk Dairying 'promotion that there has to be more substance behind it if the dairy industry is to deliver on the opportunities it is promoting."

Mr Wilson says farmers will be asked three questions at the meetings:
* What are the issues affecting staff retention?

* What can be done to improve staff retention?

* Could some farmer-driven employment practice guidelines be part of the solution?

"We are trying to raise farmers' awareness of what the issues are and the importance of putting in as much effort into staff management practices as they would feed or mastitis issues."

He says farmers first need to start using documentation. Hence, he and ATR Solutions co-Director John Fegan developed the initiative, called Employment Documentation Programme (EDP). The pair has also been instrumental in developing initiatives like Windows to Dairying, the Piarere Ag School at Hinuera and 'Quality Farm Employers of New Zealand'.

"Issues people always raise are hours of work, rates of pay and bad bosses. Dairy InSight has identified that we need to address these issues and other misconceptions out there."

Mr Wilson believes employment guidelines would be of value to improving staff recruitment and retention. He cites performance appraisals and job descriptions (clarifying expectations) as practices available that would improve farm staff retention.

"The whole area of HR is a sexy topic right now, so our challenge is to capitalise on the increased interest and encourage farmers to adopt employment management tools."

As part of the programme, 15 open meetings will be held nationwide, funded by Dairy InSight. Farmers interested in attending should contact ATR Solutions on 07 823 0112, free phone 0508 538 782 or visit www.dairyinsight.co.nz .


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