How Can I Keep Good Employees?
The Golden Rule is important, as simple as it might seem. Based on my experience, here are the top five things your dairy employees want from their job. About 90% of the time, they fall in this order of priority:
1 Respect. We don’t want to work for somebody who doesn’t respect us as people. If you are always yelling, insulting or demeaning your employees, they won’t stay. Instead, engage them and make them feel good about their jobs. Employees want to feel like they are part of the operation. I always want my people to feel good and be happy.
2 Money. Every once in a while I’ll get an offer that makes me consider whether I want to stay with my employer. We have to make a living, so pay your employees a fair wage. If you have good workers, others will want to hire them, and turnover costs money. At the same time, money isn’t everything: Employees want respect more than anything else. I’ve had guys who work for me say they have offers for more money. They go, but often call days later and say, “That guy’s not good to work for. Can I have my job back?” Most of the time, I take them back. I always have a job for a good employee.
3 Time Off. Rotating your schedule is important. Everybody needs a break now and then to spend time with their family. We try to rotate night and day shifts, and every three weeks, my guys get off a full weekend.
4 Work Environment. Good employees want to work for a place they feel good about. They want to be part of a team. Pay attention to how your staff interacts. Do you have a bully? We make an effort to ensure our guys are not getting picked on. You have to create an environment where people can be happy doing their jobs. For some guys who have worked for me, this is their No. 1 priority.
5 Opportunities. Allow your workers to better themselves or learn new skills. We can’t just teach our milkers how to dip, clean, strip teats and put on machines. We need to teach them about cell counts, mastitis and other important things in the parlor so they feel confi dent. We have to provide opportunities for people to grow but also respect their decisions if they don’t want to move up. You have to know your people. Once, I asked someone who had been a pusher for six years if he wanted a better spot. He said, “No, this is where I want to be.”