21 Oct 2014

Be upfront about work conditions: expert

6:15 am on 21 October 2014

An employment relations specialist has emphasised the importance of farmers being upfront with potential employees about working conditions on their farms.

The rural employment relations team leader at Lincoln University, Rupert Tipples, has told the Future Farms conference in Wellington that farmers need to be more businesslike in the way they manage people.

They could start by taking a more realistic approach to recruiting and looking after staff, he believed. That included telling people about any difficult or distasteful aspects of the job, which on a dairy farm might include dealing with mud and manure, so they are not taken by surprise and leave.

Associate Professor Tipples cited an example of how not to treat staff. He said an employer who has a reputation for not spending money found himself without staff because of the state of their accommodation.

"(He) didn't spend any money on his worker accommodation, got black mould in it and the milkers had left, they couldn't cope with it. And there was the contract milker with no staff to do his job."

However, he said there are also cases where dairy farmers are making their farms great places to work.

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