The next generation of farmers seem to be struggling in our industry. The question is why?!
What is it that us as farm employers are not doing to keep this generation in our industry? Not keeping them passionate, not keeping them wanting to achieve their goals and help achieve the on-farm targets? What are the next generation looking for when looking at their next farming job?
The main thing I keep seeing and hearing is “I’m not included” or “no one explains why”. This may be surprising for some people to read but the next generation are actually interested in WHY they are doing tasks the way they are on farm.
The reason I've pushed myself to achieve what I have is because of the employers that included me in on farm decisions and planning those vital on-farm targets, they gave me the opportunity to voice my opinion whether it be a good idea or not, it was still the opportunity to learn, gave me the feeling that I was an important part of the team but also helped teach me why my idea was a good one, or the reason it would not work.
Being included in decision making also helps your team start thinking ahead, looking at how to achieve your on-farm targets and opens up opportunities for them to progress with their learning.
Jobs that look attractive to the next generation are the jobs where there are opportunities, whether it’s for progression or responsibility, or a chance to learn and get on/off farm training and supportive employers.
I realise progression is difficult in some farming operations, whether it’s a family or small farming operation but there is ways of making the job attractive and that’s by giving people responsibility. It could be a simple task they are in charge of but it’s something it gives them the feeling they are an important part of your team.
Supporting your team and having clear interactions on what you expect, but also knowing what your team expect from you as an employer is extremely important for keeping the team running well and happy.
Weekly meetings to plan, monitor targets and give your team a chance to have a chat, interact and talk openly about any issues or ideas they have for the farm I believe is also important. An easy system for staff I’ve found also, is photographic books or posters with clear wash down procedures, treatment procedures, calving systems procedures etc. These are simple, yet help staff keep procedures clear to understand and it keeps procedures that work, running well - especially during the busy periods where people are tired or stressed.
Talking to the next generation - our next farming professionals shows two sides; a positive and a not so positive outlook in reality. Simple changes and gestures, for example, a box of chocolates, a BBQ or 3 during calving to say thanks for the hard work.
Simply including everyone in the decision making process is a way of keeping the next generation positive, passionate and wanting to succeed! This could be the difference to your farming business achieving what you need and want it to, or not.