Short-term em­ploy­ment of con­cern

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JOHN BROS­NAN

Adisturbing statis­tic from DairyNZ shows that the av­er­age time an em­ployee stays in a job on a dairy farm in New Zealand is only 1.6 years. This is not even two sea­sons. Sta­tis­tics are ob­vi­ously made up of a sam­ple that in­cludes peo­ple who have moved three or more times a sea­son, new en­trants who come in and de­cide it is not for them and some who have hap­pily stayed in a role for five or more sea­sons.

Still as an av­er­age stay in a job, 1.6 years is very low.

Sadly one of the ar­eas I have seen a quick turnover of em­ploy­ees is the new en­trant level.

Ef­fec­tively those straight out of school: the much ac­claimed gen­er­a­tion Y.

Even those raised on farms can strug­gle with the de­mands of a calv­ing sea­son. Long hard days for weeks in a row see many give up for some­thing eas­ier, dis­ap­point­ingly leav­ing what could have been a re­ward­ing and suc­cess­ful ca­reer.

I know there are solid young farm work­ers who have left school, gone on to farms, stayed and pro­gressed.

How­ever, the hard­est role I find to fill for farm­ers is the en­try level farm hand. And 1.6 years is not a good statis­tic.

Farm­ing is hard work through calv­ing and mat­ing but it is not that tough all year round.

It does have swings and round­abouts that make it prac­ti­cal and able to match up against other ca­reers.

Yet we gain noth­ing by hid­ing the re­al­ity of calv­ing and mat­ing to the farm­ers’ sched­ules.

From my observations there are a few things both em­ploy­ers and the young em­ploy­ees can do to help this sit­u­a­tion. Tips from em­ploy­ers: The 16 to 20 year old work­ers are still grow­ing and de­vel­op­ing. They of­ten sim­ply don’t have the en­durance that some­one in their 20s and 30s has de­vel­oped. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber and as­sist with this.

If this is your young worker’s first role and also first time liv­ing away from home then guide them a bit, be a men­tor as well as a boss.

Make sure they look af­ter them­selves by eat­ing well.

Try and ro­tate some time off for them so that they can get a day here and there even dur­ing calv­ing for a break and a rest – they sim­ply need that help.

Talk about your plan in your in­ter­view, again in ori­en­ta­tion and then reg­u­larly in your weekly farm chat over a cof­fee. This means your work­ers know what is expected and they have your sup­port and help.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is open as well if they need help with learn­ing in the role or some­thing else is hap­pen­ing. Some­times that first step into the ‘‘real world’’ and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing ‘‘free­doms’’ is quite a bit for the young worker to suc­cess­fully get a han­dle on and a good boss can of­ten be an ex­cel­lent men­tor at these times help­ing the worker set goals and keep fo­cused so they achieve suc­cess. Now for the young em­ploy­ees. The key el­e­ment for suc­cess in any job is your own at­ti­tude.

Right from day one your boss ac­tu­ally wants you to suc­ceed and they want to get on with you be­cause it makes the farm work so much bet­ter. And here is how you can help. The job needs you there and ca­pa­ble. Agreed you may not know how to do some of the tasks but if you are keen and ca­pa­ble you will learn those – but not if you phys­i­cally are not look­ing af­ter your­self. Get your sleep. Dur­ing calv­ing and mat­ing this will reg­u­larly mean go to bed fairly early.

Late night ses­sions of X-Box, in­ter­net surf­ing and the late night TV is off the agenda un­til you have days off.

Also leave the nights out with your mates un­til you can sleep in the next day and re­lax and recharge.

Eat well – if you are away from home for the first time make your­self a ros­ter to en­sure you get your­self good meals and take care of your health.

It isn’t ac­cept­able to start a new job on a farm, stay up late dur­ing the sea­son, party on a work night and then be un­pro­duc­tive the next day, or not able to lis­ten to in­struc­tions prop­erly. Troubles will start ap­pear­ing in the re­la­tion­ship with your boss. It is about be­ing re­spon­si­ble. Once you get through this busy part of the sea­son you will then see the full life­style and ex­pe­ri­ence of farm­ing and also gives them more time back.

In many ca­reers you need time to de­velop the depth of knowl­edge to re­ally do a job well.

Of­ten within two years you will have only de­vel­oped a su­per­fi­cial level of skill with­out true un­der­stand­ing.

This is why the 1.6 years is of con­cern, give your­self longer and ev­ery chance to so­lid­ify your knowl­edge base.

If you need any help give me a call at Coop­erAitken, our team is here to help.

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