Time is right to start the search for new work­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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.’’

James Thomas

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