Opinion

View From the Paddock: For love, not money in the staffing game

By Anna Cochrane
May 15 2022 - 2:00am
Anna Cochrane, station manager

It feels like we are living in a pressure cooker at the moment.

Rising inflation and interest rates, plus a shortage of willing labour in our communities and on our farms, are contributing to rising pressure to pay people more.

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Is this the coming of age for our industry where we re-establish how much people work for, or is it about more than money?

Recent research shows that money on its own rarely retains staff.

It is a subtle art of making employees simultaneously feel like they belong and that they stand out - a seemingly contradictory ambition.

For us, values are central. Our first task is to understand our own values and how they translate into our business.

We constantly ask ourselves: what type of business do we want to operate and what type of people do we want to employ?

Successful candidates must demonstrate work ethic, compassion, communication skills, a willingness to have fun at work but also be safe.

We appreciate diversity in our staff, but at the end of the day we all have common values. This is what makes a cohesive team.

We strive to make each of our staff feel special and individual.

Birthdays are always celebrated. Parents and grandparents are welcome to visit at any time.

We actively ask for ideas on how we can do things better and we listen. Our mantra is that each of our staff will teach us something; that they are each wise in their own way.

We try to never block personal and professional growth. Each year we ask every one of our staff where they want to be in 3 - 5 years time and how we can help them get there.

If they want to attend a training session or an industry event, we facilitate it. Being flexible with this is important. We might not always pay for the training, but we will always give them the time off.

For the younger staff, their growth comes from meeting people, social events and hearing other's stories as well as technical training.

The reality is that our really good employees profoundly affect the value of our business. They make us more efficient, more productive, and more effective.

Mindful of all the challenges, risks and personal sacrifices that go hand in hand with agriculture; it is almost always for the love of it, not the money.

- Anna Cochrane, station manager

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