People Management

extension officers

People management broadly defines the influence the farmer has over the individuals whose skills and labour are utilised in order to run the farm business efficiently. The performance of workers has an important role in the efficient running and overall success of the farm business.

The first step involves identifying a need for labour or skills and then finding the most effective way to fill that need.

As recruiting staff by whatever means involves time, investment and a degree of risk, it may initially be wise to investigate whether requirements can be filled by other means such as spreading the workload amongst existing staff, offering overtime or re-organising some aspects of the business to reduce workload.

Where a need for new staff members is recognised this may be for reasons such as a current staff member leaving, increased workload or growth in the farm business, a re-alignment of work:life balance for the farmer  or the requirement of new skills not currently provided for.

People management covers other areas such as:

  • The management of staff performance.
  • Determining the rights, pay and conditions of employees.
  • How to manage any disciplinary issues.

Employed, Self-employed, Agency worker or Contractor?

Several different means exist by which a farmer can procure skills and labour, for example by utilising a self-employed contractor, or a worker supplied by an agency, instead of employing someone directly themselves.

When considering which type of worker to employ, several factors may be important, including:

  • How constant the work is.
  • How long the work will last.
  • The number of hours of work each week.
  • How much supervision the work requires.
  • The degree of influence the farmer wants to demonstrate over how the work is performed.

There are a number of options:

  • Permanent or casual employees working on a full-time or part-time basis, with an open-ended or a fixed-term 'Contract of Employment'. This option involves the greatest level of employer obligation and responsibility.
  • The use of self-employed workers offers more flexibility and fewer obligations for employers. However, it is important that individuals are legally defined as self-employed, or they may be entitled to similar employment rights as employees. More about employing students
  • Staff provided by - and employed by - an employment agency or contract management supplier. Employers still have certain legal responsibilities towards the agency worker, but the contract tends to be with the agency or supplier.
  • Outsourced labour for specialised and skilled tasks, particularly common in livestock agriculture.

Family labour is important on many farms, but young people, children and students are the subject of restrictions on the hours and types of work that they can legally carry out.

DairyCo has a range of tools and guideline to help you achieve maximum efficiency and performance from the workers, contractors and suppliers of labour and management skills employed in your farm business.