Last week, we looked at how to go about finding the right person to work on your farm. We saw how a formal job description can be used to give staff a clear description of their responsibilities, duties and tasks that are required of them on farm, and the standard to which work must be completed.
However, when an employee starts a new job there is a huge amount to learn which is particular to the farm they are working on, irrespective of their experience. A process of orientation is required and, if done well by the employer, this can effectively mean that staff will get up and running a lot quicker. From the employee's perspective, this will allow them to get comfortable in the job as fast as possible and, in the process, aid job satisfaction.
Orientating a new employee generally takes quite a degree of face-to-face interaction. As this process will take a degree of time from the employer, it's important to start a new member of staff before a busy time begins, ideally a number of weeks prior to the start of calving. The orientation process can include anything important such as:
•Administration -- collecting personal information needed by employer and employee such as bank account details, pay amount, method and frequency, leave policy and procedure
•Business Overview -- including goals, production targets and farm map
•Roles and Responsibilities -- outline these for every person involved in the farming business, including the employer. Also identify areas where employees will assist in a certain responsibility.
•Key operations -- instruction on how to perform key tasks, such as the milking process, or how to use certain machinery or infrastructure. It is also good practice to identify mains electricity and water points for emergency situations.
•Culture -- the manner in which people should treat each other, animals, infrastructure and equipment can vary. You may put particular emphasis on aspects of your operation such as maintaining a high hygiene standard in the parlour and calf-rearing facilities.
•Farm rules -- these could refer to smoking policy or health and safety requirements
•Local information -- such as the contact details of the vet or input suppliers, but this can also be relevant for staff that are new to the area such as the details of local Macra groups.
A lot of these areas may be covered by verbal communication or demonstration. However, farm manuals have become very common on large farms in New Zealand where there are several staff members on large operations. These have been found to be very valuable in speeding up the orientation process, as the written word reinforces the verbal instruction given. These manuals have also been a valuable resource for periods where owners or management staff are away.