It’s not uncommon to see annual turnover rates of 30, 40 or even 50 percent in milking parlors, according to employee-management specialist and leadership coach Jorge Estrada. And, such turnover can be very expensive.

At this week’s annual meeting of NMC (formerly National Mastitis Council), Estrada outlined ways to motivate milking-parlor employees and make them more happy and productive as a result.

·         One of the things that motivates people is the “drive to bond” and work harmoniously with others. The Hispanic culture is known for wanting to bond and work together, Estrada said.

·         Workers want to earn the trust and respect of their employers. “Employees who feel trusted and respected by their superiors tend to be more motivated to do the work they are asked to do,” Estrada said.

·         Employees want to know that their abilities are being put to good use — and those efforts are accomplishing something. In the case of milkers, they need to know what their time in the parlor every day is accomplishing. Keep them apprised of production and milk-quality results.    

·         At many dairies, if workers are given as choice between working in the parlor or “working outside,” they will choose the latter. Yet, there are ways to make the parlor a more attractive place to work, such as music, breaks, a break room, and so on.

·         Companies that conduct exit interviews have found that about 50 percent of the time, employees cite a poor relationship with their supervisor as one of the reasons for leaving. That can be just as much the supervisor’s fault as the employee’s. “Supervisors must be keen in developing those relationships with employees,” Estrada said.

·         Supervisors need to be as eager to catch employees doing something right as they would someone making mistakes.