Time is right to start the search for new workers
To get two bites of the recruitment cherry, now is the time to start looking for next season’s farm staff. To get the best people for the job, FarmWise Consultant, James Thomas, said from now until the first half of December and again after the New Year is best practice – first in best dressed for both employee and employer.
‘‘Now is the best time to let potential staff know you are looking for someone, it allows each party to prepare and plan.
‘‘A farm manager, sharemilker or anyone looking to go 50:50 sharemilking may well be considering their options now – a lot of jobs go between now and Christmas – and if a position is secured it allows the 50:50 sharemilker, for example, time to purchase the herd, arrange transportation and plan for the logistics of moving.
‘‘ Many farmers mistakenly believe individual employment agreements with salaried staff terminate each year on May 31 therefore providing an opportunity for employee and employer to renegotiate or extend the agreement.
‘‘However, this is not the case, a permanent employee is permanent. More information on this can be found on line with the department of labour.
‘‘Farmers seeking to fill waged positions are probably best advised to start their recruitment process after Christmas.’’
Farming is a unique recruitment model, Mr Thomas said.
‘‘Most positions are not only about work but also involve living on the property.
‘‘Farmers and farm staff have very different stresses from people in other jobs – for example if you have a bad day at the office or a disagreement with a work colleague, you can get in the car, drive home and switch off – on a farm you may live right next door or even share the same accommodation.’’
Mr Thomas said the top three farm working expenses are fertiliser, feed and labour, ‘‘so if farmers get the labour wrong it can be not only very stressful but costly too.
‘‘Family dynamics play a major part in the farm recruitment process – which is why it is very important both potential employees and employers are open.
‘‘When seeking a job in a business or company, the potential employee is not obliged to disclose personal information, for example if they are married/in a relationship or if they have dependent children – and equally would not expect to be made aware of their potential employer’s marital status and family.
‘‘In the farming environment however, people often need to know this sort of information to establish for example – is the farm children-safe? Is the staff property suitable for a single person, a couple or a family with young/older children?
‘‘Employers and employees need to know where they stand so they can lawfully draw up the appropriate contracts.
‘‘It is important for all parties involved that legal and current contracts are used. FarmWise have a suite of employment contracts available.’’
As a dairy farm owner and someone who had previously employed staff, Mr Thomas said he had learnt not to underestimate the importance of relationships on farm between employers and employees.
‘‘Having a good job description in place is important so that potential staff are clear on what their responsibilities and duties would be, what the job entails and what is expected.
‘‘Potential employees should be able to explain why they are suitable for the position available, provide an up-to-date CV and some referees – including previous employers.
‘‘In an ideal world farmers and farm staff would be matched by word-of-mouth recommendation. And as farming remains a closeknit community, networking is still quite often a successful recruitment tool.
‘‘But other recruitment methods, such as job searching on Fencepost and through newspaper advertising or employment internet sites is popular.’’
Mr Thomas said, however, in order to get the right fit for a job it was sometimes more important to get the right personality fit, ‘‘and staff and employer need to have similar farming philosophies’’.
‘‘Employers are obliged to reward staff and equally staff are obliged to give the job 100 per cent. I think the key to success is ensuring both employees and employer have their goals met. All farming operations are different but it is always about finding the best person who fits the job.’’