Arriving on a large and busy breeding farm some two years ago, I met the owner at the entrance having, like a good little consultant, left my car outside the farm boundary, writes John Gadd. My arrival coincided with that of a new employee on his first day of work, the owner saying to him: “Ah, you’re the new chap; just go in and report to . . . who’ll look after you.”
Pleasant enough, I thought, but not really the way to welcome a new member of his farm team. I thought back to my first days on Bob Milne`s Dykelands Farm in Kincardineshire, and later David Talyor’s generous welcome to his huge Taymix outdoor unit in Dorset.
My own inductions seemed to have been very different, where each employer took time off himself to give me a guided tour of their units before handing over to the manager and getting on with his undoubtedly more important business. Or so I thought.
But what’s more important for an owner than ensuring a new recruit is welcomed personally into the business and given basic information – and “straight from the hors’s mouth” too – as soon as he arrives. About wages, overtime, the farm’s strategy, rest room facilities, why he has been recruited, where he/she fits in and who his colleagues will be.
Followed by asking about accommodation arrangements, transport to and from work, hobbies and pastimes, and if necessary domestic details. This they both did while they showed me round. After all, we hear many rueful complaints about industry and commerce getting there first with the best labour. Surely pig unit employers need to stimulate or reinforce the new recruit’s interest in our vibrant pig production industry, win their loyalty and make them feel part of their production team.
A tail to this story
This summer I recognised the new recruit I mentioned above on another farm nearby thart he had just joined, and on the farm tour round the pigs was impressed with his knowledge. Obviously a good man. I asked him why he left? “The boss didn`t care much for people,” he said, “and I felt that before long I wouldn`t be rewarded for my knowledge and effort, so I thought it best to look around”.
That impression could have started with that casual (non) introduction, so I have added him into my survey of why people quit.
Many of us will have started new jobs, but perhaps not so many farm owners, who have to run their own businesses beset with other worries! The new recruit has to cope with a new locality, new colleagues, new relationships, new protocols and can become bewildered by it all, and anxiety can arise. I know it did with me.
Some care, sympathy and guidance is needed at the start and that’s what I got. Both my employers were good pig farmers, but turned out to be tough cookies and sometimes difficult to work for. But they were fair and had my loyalty right from the induction period onwards.