Labor often rises to the top when it comes to challenges faced by the dairy industry. One of the best ways to retain employees and create the most efficient team possible is to keep team members engaged, says Jorge Delgado, who leads the Training, Talent Development and Retention Program for Dairy Workers at Alltech.
Similarly, Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health, says employee engagement is really important because you want your employees to be comfortable with their coworkers and to have supportive relationships with their managers and supervisors.
“Engagement helps reinforce the company’s commitment to helping the professional growth of that particular employee and by listening to what their goals are,” she says. “Those types of efforts of engaging with the employee really go a long, long way.”
So how can you keep employees engaged? Delgado says there are three things that can help engage dairy workers.
1. Measure success. Members of your team want their success to be measured, Delgado says, but they need to understand the measuring plan. For example, if you’re talking about somatic cell count, which he says is a good way to measure how milkers are doing their job, the first thing is that they have to understand what a somatic cell count is. “No matter what else you do, the first thing to engage workers is to find a way to measure them.”
2. Created purpose. Everyone wants to know their work matters to somebody, particularly your employees, Delgado says. “They need to know that their work matters for somebody else so they are relevant for somebody else,” he says. “It’s not their families or themselves but somebody else. Either a coworker, their boss, or even a consumer that is drinking the product they help produce.” This part
can be tricky to figure out, but purpose makes all the difference, he says.
3. Celebrate success. It’s human nature to want to be needed and to feel recognized. To achieve this, you need to get to know your employees on a personal level, Delgado explains. Figure out how to recognize your team members. In addition to providing positive feedback and constant encouragement, Bob Milligan, senior consultant at Dairy Strategies suggests discovering ways to celebrate success. “Surprise rewards are powerful,” Milligan says. “These can be non-monetary or gift cards. They should be occasional so they do not become expectations.”