November 26, 2019

Paid Vacations are a Win-Win

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Dairying is hard work for anyone. As a dairy operator, you might look forward to an annual vacation when you can fit it in. Do you offer your employees the same? Research shows people who take time away from work are more productive. “Offering employees paid time off can really boost not only morale but productivity, too,” says Ann Johanns, an Iowa State Extension specialist. But an Ohio State University study found only 4% of farm workers are offered paid vacation time.

How much time are we talking? It will be different for each dairy. A study done by the Society for Human Resources found the average number of vacation days offered to employees in the U.S. ranges from 9 to 21. Don’t panic! That much time away from the dairy is likely not achievable for most operations. Cody Heller, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and consultant, says he offers all of his employees who have worked on his farm for at least one year double time on holidays and 10 days of paid vacation. He says not all employees take it, and some ask for the cash equivalent, but he is happy to oblige.

Where do I start? Johanns suggest farmers begin by identifying which employees in your operation will qualify for time off. Next, decide how your program will work. Will workers have a specific number of vacation hours or will they accrue over time? Will you require them to take time off during a specific time of the year?

How much will it cost? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, vacation time costs an average of $1.03 per hour or 3.6% of an employee’s total compensation. The cost of high turnover? Much more.