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Attracting and Retaining Staff in the Aust Pastoral Industry - Part 2

Posted by Bestprac on Jun 16 2009

Industry Feedback

By Nandi Herholdt, The Ryder Self Group


During the period, June to November 2007, owners, managers and employees were given the opportunity to participate in the MLA-AWI study on attracting and retaining staff in the Australian pastoral industry. These survey results have also been communicated and discussed with various stakeholders in the industry during 2008 to identify viable plans for action. The following initiatives have been proposed to address a few key issues that were identified around attracting and retaining staff.

Key initiatives

1. Reducing the Impact of the Mining Industry

• In contrast with the Mining Industry the image of the Pastoral Livestock Industry can be strongly promoted to appeal to the key attractors reported by the current workforce such as focusing on the lifestyle benefits, working outdoors, working with animals, job variety and the community orientation experienced in the workplace.
• An industry review of remuneration in the Pastoral Livestock Industry is proposed to explore best practice and ways to make remuneration a bit more attractive to the workforce.
• Exploring models for sharing labour between the pastoral and mining industry has been proposed to address concerns around the periodic nature of some parts of the workforce.
• The Pastoral Livestock Industry needs to strengthen its appeal to current and prospective employees through better definition, awareness and information of industry-wide career pathways.

2. Engaging a younger workforce

• Various strategies to attract the younger work-force are:

o An on-line industry wide hub for career information, employment opportunities, required skill sets and available training opportunities.
o The development and marketing of a "Gap Year" concept that offers short-term and long-term workplace opportunities in the Pastoral Livestock Industry. The Defence Force Gap Year concept is a useful case study to review and learn from.

• Retaining the younger work-force might be achieved through:

o Ensuring job tasks provide variety and learning
o Ensuring managers are approachable, supportive and good communicators. Manager training and development programs need to specifically target this type of management style.
o Providing a career path for each individual (either within the company or at least within the industry).
o Ensuring the basic needs are met with regards to working conditions, remuneration and financial planning.
o Ensuring employees have work-life balance.

3. Develop a sense of financial security for employees

• Employers need to communicate more effectively the benefits of total remuneration packages; focussing specifically on non-cash components.
• It is also important to explore models for creating long-term job security amidst seasonal work activities such as paid time in lieu and job sharing across other industries.
• A continued focus on career development will also contribute to employees' sense of financial security as they have a more secure view of their long-term career in the industry.

4. Developing Career Opportunities

• An on-line industry wide hub for career information, employment opportunities, required skills sets and available training is key in communicating career opportunities in the industry
• A skills portfolio approach that is portable, skills audits and passports between employers have been proposed to enable employees to move from farm to farm while building their career in the industry.
• Larger employers need to also explore opportunities for staff to move around business units.
• It has also been recognised that Supervisors and Managers in the industry require ongoing development through professional development and mentoring programs.
• The "Gap Year" concept proposed to specifically attract the younger workforce can also be aimed at career changes. It will be important to explore the level of qualifications or statement of attainment that can be linked to the completion of the "Gap Year".

5. Manage Possible Employee Burnout

• Employers can reduce employee burnout through workload management, adapting a approachable management style, fostering a collaborative and supportive atmosphere in the workplace, providing a safe and healthy workplace and providing employee health and well-being programs.
• Employees can reduce their risk of burnout through taking care of their own physical health, participating in well-being programs that also address their emotional and cognitive health and ensuring they make the most of teamwork and the sense of community at work.

6. Different Strategies for Different Properties based on Size of Workforce

• Significant differences have been noted for different sized properties. It is therefore important to note that initiatives need to be targeted more specifically to particularly properties based on their size:

o The large properties will need to focus on strategies that will successfully engage the younger workforce. In particular their managers need to adapt an approachable and supportive management style with good communication skills.
o The medium properties will need to avoid employee burnout resulting from working long hours for a significantly larger portion of the year.
o The smaller properties will need to focus on long-term sustainability of their ageing workforce by developing a sense of personal ownership through high levels of autonomy.

For more information please contact Nandi Herholdt at The Ryder Self Group on 03 9038 8915.

Last changed: Feb 16 2012



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