Client Feedback

Having in the past had vets who had very poor communication skills and getting information was like pulling teeth! We now have vets who have very good people skills, they give information freely and keep us informed at all times. We have an excellent relationship with all of our vets, this comes when your practice is not too big and your customers have names not numbers. We are very grateful we made the move to The Cow Vets.

Phil & Delwyn Dombroski | Farm owners, Te Miro

human resource management

Every dairy farm involves people. From single person managers or owners to large corporate farms, the ability to effectively engage people to operate the farm business is relevant. A realistic goal for any farm business should be to ensure that the business is not constrained by people issues. The current trend in the industry is increasing herd sizes and more people being employed. If the industry is to attract and retain good people, and not just be the dumping ground for “drop outs”, it must be competitive with other industries.

People issues can be very complex and it is often a good idea to seek some help from an adviser. One of our vets, Mark, is the only person in New Zealander to complete a diploma in human resource management specifically tailored to the dairy industry.

We are now able to offer comprehensive HR services to farmers, from recruitment and selection of new staff through to strategic planning and team management. Getting the people management part of a dairy farm sorted and keeping it up-to-date can be a sizeable task, which is why seeking advice from off farm can enhance outcomes.

Comment on People issues in dairy farming:

Although remuneration plays a part, there are other factors that make a business attractive to work in. The major challenges we face are:

  • Attracting retaining and developing good people.
  • Having a satisfactory work-life balance.
  • Being fairly rewarded for our efforts.
  • Managing risk adequately.

The first step is understanding the drivers of people issues on farm. Research carried out in the Australian dairy industry identified four fundamental principles as the keys to success for working with people on farm:

1.      Consider all the people on the farm (not just employees).

2.      Adapt the way things are done on the farm to suit people.

3.      Have the right people doing the right jobs at the right time.

4.      Establish and maintain effective working relationships.

For example, on a farm struggling to keep people, the owners may assume people are leaving because they aren't being paid enough for the hours they are working or because of workplace conflicts. However, these issues are most likely not the root cause, they are probably just symptoms of other problems in the farm business. To seek out the underlying cause/s the farm owners need to think more broadly than pay and working conditions to the broader people issues such as:

  • Do the owners have realistic expectations of what can be achieved?
  • Is the farm adequately resourced to achieve its goals?
  • Has enough effort and thought been put into how the farm operates?
  • Are roles and responsibilities clear and are the right people in these roles?
  • Are individuals trained, coached, rewarded and given reasonable time off?
  • Is the team well enough equipped and managed to deliver high performance?

Much of what makes a farm a good workplace comes down to the quality of the leadership and the ability to gain the respect of the people working on the farm. Likewise, the culture of the business influences how well a farm performs. The effects of leadership and culture filter down through everything the farm does.