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Are Your Staff Engaged?

I’m in a unique and privileged position where I get to hear people regularly discuss employment. Having also been lightly involved in management and staffing I’ve combined these views to share my thoughts on motivating staff.

I proudly admit that in Farming Mums NZ, talk around employment is usually positive but we also have a bonus function of allowing members to ask ‘Anonymous Questions’ to protect their identity when asking sensitive questions.

Sometimes these are about pregnancy. ​

Far too often it’s about their own or their partners mental health.

We have family disputes and more.

Just as often, they are around employment. These topics are common and understandable, but with our close knit and small country, can land you in hot water.

Unfortunately many have learnt this the hard way as with 10,500 members, the likelihood of something getting out is sadly….rather high!

Many times discussions arise that focus on employment followed by off-hand comments such as ‘We had the laziest worker’, ‘That’s why we prefer foreign workers’, ‘Never did what we asked’, ‘Had zero interest in the job and no drive’ - This to me, suggests some type of communication breakdown.

At risk of it looking like I am pointing the finger, I won’t usually get into this in the group but what I really want to know is WHY are they unmotivated?

WHY are they lacking energy, passion, enthusiasm?

I want employers to WANT to know these things too.

Here are some questions from scenarios I have heard or been involved with throughout the years.

First ask yourself, then them:

  • Are they eating properly or are they surviving on sugar highs and lows?

  • How is their mental health?

  • Has there been a sudden change in behaviour? Attitude? Personality?

  • Is farming their fall-back career and not something they actually love or enjoy?

  • Could drugs be playing a part in disinterest and lack of concentration?

  • Do they understand the farms goals, aspirations and targets? Are they incentivised to meet these? Can you work with your employees to set their own goals?

  • Do you fill your staff in on what’s happening in the big scheme of things? Do you aim for some level of transparency?

  • How is their home life? Relationship issues? Problems with children’s behaviour or health?

  • Do you have open and comfortable communication both ways?

  • Do you have regular meetings, weekly, monthly, for staff to talk situations over, reassess seasonal goals and bring up any concerns?

  • Do you provide any social opportunities? Beers on a friday night? Dinner for hitting targets?

  • Have they been supported and encouraged in things like Young Farmer competitions or Dairy Industry awards?

  • Do they get time to see their kids play sport, go to their own trainings?

  • Do you create a roster which allows them some flexibility?

  • Are their hours excessive? Are they getting time off with their family and to recuperate and refuel both physically and mentally?

  • Are they lonely? Do they socialise or risk isolating themselves due to geographical location from friends and family?

  • Do they feel unappreciated, under complimented?

  • Do you give them the opportunity to have a say, discuss ideas and options?

  • Would they like to do some personal and professional development?

This is not only important to address as an individual staff member - we all know that the attitude of one person can bring down the entire team’s energy and mood.

My challenge to you is, rather than brushing off concerns of other staff members or being uncomfortable about asking these questions, stand up and have those fierce conversations. Know that it will show you care, it will give them faith in their ability to come to you when they need it and it could do wonders for someone’s self belief and mental health.

In my opinion ‘Laziness’ is unlikely to ever be the answer to someone’s lack of enthusiasm.

It’s your job as an employer to find your employees drivers; what makes them tick? What makes them lose interest? What makes them work harder and be happier? How do they like to work - do they need responsibility to feel worth and give them the opportunity to prove themselves?

It costs nothing to praise someone, to give a compliment, to say thank you at the end of the working day. Passion and hard work often stems from affirmations employees hear from their boss or manager.

Workers don't just crave a paycheck -- they want recognition, verbal appreciation and encouragement.

Be the employer they never forget, for all the right reasons!!

Sure it takes a little gusto but never, ever underestimate the positive effect you can have on someone’s life by just asking a few questions of interest each day.

(For more ideas on ways to include staff and bond a team, check out the posts from November from Susie and Michael Woodward's farm and see how they create inclusive and happy working environments)

So, do you have staff that are lacking drive? What are you going to do about it?

Chanelle started Farming Mums NZ in 2013 and the group has grown consistently ever since. She also works as a social media specialist for Grass Roots Media with a focus on agribusiness.

She has worked through out the industry from dairy to dry stock to vet nursing. She now balances multiple projects with her two children and farm manager husband. This year has a strong focus on rural women's mental health and support.

On the side, she has recently launched Virtual Insight, bringing 360 degree filming and virtual reality into the primary sector.

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