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Employee Engagement: The key to retaining talent and passion on New Zealand’s Dairy Farms

Author: Lucy Moss

Organisation: Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme

Published: 2020

Country: New Zealand

Research type: Case study, Qualitative.

Historically Dairy farming was seen as an attractive career path where hard work and dedication was rewarded with the trophy of farm ownership, but that reward is all but out of the grasp of most; this amongst a plethora of other reasons has led to an ever-increasing struggle to attract and retain talented individuals on farm.  With 60% of new entrants to the dairy industry leaving within the first twelve months, retention is a very real issue on our dairy farms. Research has shown engaged employees are not only less likely to leave the farm or organisation, but when employees are engaged, the organisation will be both more productive and profitable.

Improving employee engagement on-farm will help dairy farmers be better employers, and ultimately better equipped to retain employees. The aim of this report is to better understand the concept of employee engagement and how it can be understood, measured, and created. Employee engagement is a concept that is not unique to any specific business type or size, therefore can be applied to any farm situation regardless of the number of employees.

The recommendations of this report are intended to be able to be easily applied in farm to aid in improving the engagement of employees, recommendations are as follows;

  • Provide development opportunities.
  • Give feedback and recognition.
  • Share and discuss purpose.
  • Give flexibility and autonomy where possible.
  • Improving employee engagement takes time.