While the number of farmers nationally may be falling, the scale of individual farms, particularly in the dairy sector, continues to increase. This increased scale is creating both challenges and opportunities. One of the challenges is the recruitment and retention of good quality high performing staff. In short, good people are hard to find and even harder to keep, here are my top fifteen tips for looking after your best employees:
1. Treat your employees as you would like to be treated. Lead by example but remember your employees will rarely work as hard or as long as you; they don’t own your farm, you do.
2. Make sure your employees receive a contract of employment when you hire them.
3. Don’t use net pay agreements. Agree a gross (before tax) rate of pay per hour.
4. Remember to make sure you are compliant with applicable pay rates. Irelands National Minimum Wage is now €9.80 (before tax) per hour.
5. Be aware of benefit in kind. If you are giving your employee the use of a vehicle or other non- cash incentive, it may be subject to benefit in kind (a tax charge on the deemed value of the benefit).
6. Make sure you pay fairly and on time, every time.
7. Give your employees a payslip each time they are paid.
8. Keep a record of hours worked and give your employees the appropriate rest breaks.
9. Honor all agreements on overtime, profit share or bonuses etc.
10. Reward extra effort. You can give your employees a tax free voucher of up to €500 once per year.
11. Give clear direction on what tasks you require your employees to complete and provide appropriate training.
12. Give clear, straight forward and honest feedback.
13. Be flexible, we all need to go to a doctor/dentist/parent teacher meeting etc. sometimes at short notice.
14. Always be mindful of your employees’ health and safety and promote the importance of safety in your workplace.
15. Think win-win, if you look after your employees, they will look after your business.
Managing people can be challenging. Having a clear consistent approach to people management is vital. A growing business, be it in the farming, food, or agribusiness sector, will need good people. Be a good manager and you will retain your best people.