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March 2014 Archive for Labor Matters

RSS By: Dairy Today: Labor Matters, Dairy Today

Experts cover today’s key dairy labor issues and offer fool-proof techniques to optimize employee performance, sat­isfaction and longevity.

The Investment You May Be Overlooking

Mar 20, 2014

It can pay off in many ways for your dairy—and could save you millions.

Contreras Charles 2013By Charles Contreras, PeopleFirst™ business solutions manager, Zoetis

Do you remember your first day on the job? The uneasiness. The uncertainty. That’s how untrained employees feel every day.

Unfortunately, too many owners and managers view employee training and development as an expense rather than an investment. Sometimes they wait to make sure employees are staying with the operation long-term before spending time and money on training.

But what if you were to invest in training and development from the beginning? Employees would have more of a reason to stay. You would see decreased turnover and have committed workers who finish tasks and carry out procedures consistently and accurately.

Beyond improving worker knowledge and performance, effective, consistent training pays off in many ways for the dairy:

• More efficiency: No one will have to wait for instructions from owners or managers. You’ll have confidence that employees know how to operate effectively. And they’ll have confidence, too.

• Reduced turnover, better morale: Without proper training, you could be encouraging employee turnover by creating stress and discouraging development. By reducing workplace stress, you will make a workplace where people want to stay, learn and grow long-term.

• Improved production: Consistent performance throughout the dairy is key to producing high-quality milk. With a good training program, you’ll have dependable output regardless of employee experience. You’ll see more consistent compliance with protocols, and workers will know why following these protocols is important.

• Less risk: One mistake from an untrained employee could cost you millions. Administering the wrong product. Treating an animal incorrectly. These are the kind of risk factors that would be addressed during the training process. Why risk your company’s reputation?

• Operation growth: Having fully developed employees will allow you to focus on bigger strategic goals. When you have a system to bring people in, train them and get them up to speed, you can spread your attention across a larger area.

You can ensure consistency and improve your employees’ performance by formalizing training and leadership development at onboarding. Once you hire the right employees for your dairy, here’s what I recommend for establishing an effective training program:

• Deliver information regularly.
• Present information in a way workers can understand and remember.
• Make sure the length of training time is practical.
• Assess whether the training is working. Are workers more confident? Are they remembering what they learned?

Employees need to know how to do their jobs effectively to ensure the consistent and continued success of your dairy. Employees want to do a good job. Making time to develop a formal, consistent employee training and development program is not only valuable, it’s essential. Proper training communicates values, drives engagement and motivates employees to give extra effort from day one.

Charles Contreras is a business solutions manager for PeopleFirst™ at Zoetis. He works with cattle producers, equine business owners and veterinarians to meet their human resources, training, development and leadership needs. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex operations. For more ways to help develop your employees and dairy, talk with a certified consultant, such as the ones available through PeopleFirst or visit GrowPeopleFirst.com.

All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. ©2014 Zoetis Inc. All rights reserved. 

Alcohol and Work Are a Deadly Combination

Mar 17, 2014

Detecting symptoms of alcohol abuse among your employees and how you should treat it.

Robin DSC SmallBy Robin Paggi, Worklogic HR

The recent legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado has inspired much discussion about its impact on employers in those states and potentially others. However, there is a drug that has been legal for years that employers should really be concerned about, and that is alcohol.

According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 14 million U.S. workers are substance abusers, and the majority of them (85%) abuse alcohol.

That’s a problem because, according to Robert J. Grossman, author of the article "What to Do about Substance Abuse," substance abusers are "three-and-a-half times more likely to cause accidents at work and in transit." Additionally, substance abusers use more sick days than their co-workers (an average of 45%) and "their health care costs are double their peers’."

In a survey conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 60% of respondents said that their companies are "tough" on illegal drugs but "soft" on alcohol. Additionally, more managers and supervisors actually reported drinking during the workday and at company functions than other employees.

Perhaps it is because alcohol is legal and socially acceptable that employers tend to put less importance on its negative impact at work. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "many companies do not have alcohol policies; those that do may not enforce them effectively." Those companies should know that one in five workers (in a George Washington University survey) reported they had been "injured or put in danger on the job because of a colleague's drinking, or having to work harder, redo work or cover for a co-worker as a result of a fellow employee's drinking."

The information above suggests that employers might benefit from becoming more knowledgeable and/or proactive about alcohol abuse. According to John Pompe, manager of disability and behavioral health programs at Caterpillar Inc., "Alcohol- and substance-related problems present a clear threat to employers in terms of productivity loss, safety, employee engagement, use of supervisory time and health care costs. The problem is that most employees with substance abuse problems go unrecognized and even more go untreated."

What should employers look for? According to The American Council for Drug Education, symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

• Frequent, prolonged, and often unexplained absences;
• Involvement in accidents both on and off the job;
• Erratic work patterns and reduced productivity;
• Indifference to personal hygiene;
• Overreaction to real or imagined criticism;
• Overt physical signs such as exhaustion or hyperactivity, dilated pupils, slurred speech, or an unsteady walk.

How should employers treat alcohol abuse? The Occupational Safety & Health Administration suggests a comprehensive drug-free workforce approach that includes five components:

• a policy;
• supervisor training;
• employee education;
• employee assistance;
• testing.

According to OSHA, such programs, especially when testing is included, must be reasonable and take into consideration employee rights to privacy. Additionally, some states, such as California, require employers to reasonably accommodate employees who wish to voluntarily participate in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

Employers do their employees as well as themselves a favor by addressing every kind of substance abuse in the workplace, because every kind of drug use is a threat to everyone involved, regardless of whether it is illegal or not.

Robin Paggi is the training coordinator at Worklogic HR, a human resources outsourcing company. In addition to conducting workshops on HR issues, she is a frequent presenter at conferences and a regular contributor to The Bakersfield Californian, The Kern Business Journal and Bakersfield Magazine. Contact her at rpaggi@worklogiclegal.com

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