Calif. dairy workers staying on the job longer

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California dairy workers are staying in their jobs longer than they did decades ago, according to a study recently released by the University of California.

The improvement is attributed to workers' reluctance to leave their jobs in tough economic times.

However, there is still room for improvement.

"...tenures among non-Hispanic employees were twice as long as among Hispanic employees, suggesting there are opportunities to further increase workforce stability," say study authors Gregorio Billikopf and Gustavo Gonzalez.

The study looked at tenure of employment at dairies in California's San Joaquin Valley during 2009, comparing the turnover rates to earlier studies in 1953 and 1984. 

Researchers found that the top four reasons workers left their jobs were: compensation and benefits (29 percent), dairy economic problems (14 percent), personal/family reasons (11 percent), and working schedules/time-off (11 percent). Click here to read more.

Turnover can be expensive for dairies.

"The cost of turnover extends far beyond monetary losses," says Sarah Fogleman, Kansas State University extension agricultural economist. Turnover can hurt morale, because the employees who remain at the farm must play catch-up as they struggle to fill the same positions over and over again and train new employees.

In a report published in the October 2002 issue of Dairy Herd Management, Kim Watson named eight ideas to help limit turnover, including building loyalty and a team work mentality, using job descriptions and evaluating performance and establishing ground rules. Read “8 ways to limit employee turnover.”

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