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Labor Matters

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

Know Your Dairy Before You Hire

Sep 20, 2013

Here’s one tip: Interview your existing employees first with these questions.

contreras charlesBy Charles Contreras, PeopleFirst™ business solutions manager, Zoetis 

Hiring the right people for your dairy operation can be a manager’s greatest challenge. What’s more, the people you hire, no matter how qualified, can take the dairy off course if their goals differ from the operation’s.

Here’s a helpful starting point for growing your team: Take the time to evaluate the goals of your operation and understand the goals of your current employees. Interview your existing employees first. What makes them click? This can help you identify what qualities to seek in prospective employees. Ultimately, it will help you make better hiring decisions.

Ask your current employees these questions:

Who are we looking for?
Determining how a candidate will fit within the culture of your operation is extremely important. Recognize the core competencies of your top employees and ask them what they like about their job. As you search for new employees, look for candidates with similar goals and attributes. By communicating and aligning all employees with the goals of the operation, employees will be engaged from the beginning.

What questions are we asking in the interview?
Employees are often dismissed from an operation for their attitude, not a lack of aptitude. In the interview, make sure everyone is asking behavioral-based questions that offer insight into the applicant. For instance, asking only yes-or-no questions such as "Do you have experience milking?" won’t allow you to fully understand whether they will be a good fit for the team. Instead, discussing how they would handle a situation will give you more perspective.

When are we looking for new employees?
If you are looking for employees only when you need a position filled, you are limiting your options. It’s crucial to make recruiting and interviewing a year-round process. By interviewing regularly, you’ll hone your interviewing skills and process. More important, you’ll find quality candidates who make the best fit for your company rather than hiring the first person who walks through your door.

Where are we looking for candidates?
Ask current employees about potential candidates. This can be just as essential as advertising in trade publications and classifieds. Through word of mouth, your employees might help you find someone who would be a great fit for the company. These referrals also will make your current employees more likely to help new employees succeed.

Why are employees leaving or not engaged?
Having a formal process for hiring can help your dairy find the right people who are more likely to stay long term. According to a Corporate Leadership Council survey, employees who are engaged in the workplace are 87% less likely to leave the company. Establishing a formal, consistent hiring process with your team will help you find employees who want to work for you. Assign a point person to handle everything from recruitment, selection and reference checks to orientation. Make certain to follow every step of the process every time. Involve other team members in the interview so they have an opportunity to weigh in and be engaged with potential employees as well.

Getting the right strategy and finding the right people are essential for maintaining long-term growth for your dairy operation. For more questions and help on hiring better employees, talk with a certified consultant, such as the ones available through PeopleFirst™. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital and business solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex operations. Visit to learn more.

All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. ©2013 Zoetis Inc. All rights reserved. 

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