In­vest­ing in peo­ple

Shepparton News - Country News - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

Hu­man cap­i­tal is the key to en­sur­ing Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­ture in­dus­tries can ex­pand, a West­ern Aus­tralian Nuffield scholar has said.

Hav­ing con­ducted a two-year re­search jour­ney that in­cluded more than four months trav­el­ling through 11 coun­tries, Reece Cur­wen fo­cused on in­ves­ti­gat­ing best prac­tice in peo­ple man­age­ment across the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

‘‘Peo­ple are our most im­por­tant re­source,’’ Mr Cur­wen said.

‘‘But the re­al­ity of hir­ing and re­tain­ing staff in ru­ral ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary in­dus­tries at peak times of the year such as har­vest, can be in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing.’’

The Stir­ling-based pro­ducer, who man­ages his fam­ily’s 7500 ha crop­ping pro­gram that in­cludes canola, bar­ley and wheat, in ad­di­tion to 14 000 head of Merino ewes, fo­cused on how man­agers led their teams and used them to boost farm pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Of the busi­nesses Mr Cur­wen vis­ited over­seas, he said those who were able to thrive had mas­tered staff re­ten­tion and were con­sid­ered an em­ployer of choice within the in­dus­try and the com­mu­nity.

‘‘They em­pow­ered their em­ploy­ees and gave them the tools to suc­ceed, which led to in­creased pro­fes­sional and per­sonal growth,’’ he said.

‘‘This is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant for the younger gen­er­a­tions who are pri­mar­ily mo­ti­vated by a suc­cess­ful and pos­i­tive cul­ture, rather than salary or sta­tus.’’

As well as prac­tis­ing good gov­er­nance, core val­ues, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ac­count­abil­ity mea­sures, Mr Cur­wen said plac­ing em­pha­sis on train­ing al­lowed busi­nesses to demon­strate they val­ued their em­ploy­ees and mo­ti­vated them to im­prove and in­crease their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties within the busi­ness.

‘‘Get­ting staff more in­volved in the busi­ness, both at a tech­ni­cal and strate­gic level, pays off.

‘‘On the most suc­cess­ful farms I vis­ited, the lead­er­ship style had shifted away from telling peo­ple what to do to em­pow­er­ing peo­ple and al­lo­cat­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity.

‘‘With Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture en­ter­ing a new wave of growth and pros­per­ity, there’s never been a bet­ter time to sell the pos­i­tive story of a ca­reer in farm­ing and where it can take you.

‘‘When a busi­ness or in­dus­try be­comes at­trac­tive, it at­tracts peo­ple.’’ of agri­cul­ture.

Peo­ple power . . . Nuffield scholar Reece Cur­wen be­lieves peo­ple are key to the fu­ture

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