Dairy business managers increasingly are people managers, and the success of the operation largely depends upon employees. Attracting and hiring employees can be one of the most important decisions in a dairy calf and heifer operation. Unfortunately, it's a responsibility often overlooked. Consider these suggestions:

Step 1. To attract the right people, clearly define the needs of the farm, the jobs that must be accomplished and the details required for work to be completed in a timely fashion. Write a job description for every position on the operation. The job description should include the job title, responsibilities, relationships to other jobs, working conditions and salary. The job description is a tool to help define the responsibilities of each employee, clearly represent the position and determine how the employee will be evaluated. Review and modify job descriptions as the business evolves.

Step 2. Word of mouth and referrals from current and former employees can be extremely valuable in recruiting new employees. Take full advantage of these opportunities and make sure that people have good things to say about their experiences at your farm. People talk about working conditions and how they're treated. Employees have long memories when it comes to management reactions to critical events and support given to people during difficult times.

Step 3. Use an orientation period for new employees or potential hires before offering them a position. Orientation allows the manager and the employee to determine the individual's aptitude for the job. This employment tool will demonstrate the norms, policies and working relationships of the operation. For example, show the lunch room and bathroom and "how clean we keep them," the first aid kit, emergency contacts, the supervisor's office, different groups of animals and feed storage. Use the time for introductions, sharing information about the farm and its culture and making the new team member feel at home.

Always consult with your veterinarian and industry thought leaders for specific recommendations for your operation. Refer to DCHA Gold Standards I and Gold Standards II  for best production management practices.

Dr. Miguel Morales, DVM and technical consultant with Elanco Animal Health, presented these suggestions for attracting good employees at a recent DCHA conference.

Source: Dairy Calf & Heifer Association