How We Keep Our Employees

September 11, 2012 08:40 PM


TravisLarsonTravis Larson

Okeechobee, Fla.

Larson is a third-generation dairy producer in southern Florida, milking 4,200 cows.




**Extended comments highlighted in blue.

How much is a good employee worth? Managers and business owners often ask themselves this question.

Good employees perform the job they are hired to do and they take the stress off their manager by being responsible and trustworthy. Good employees follow protocols and procedures but are not resistant to working outside of their job description when the need arises. Unfortunately, sometimes you find out just how valuable a person was to your dairy operation when he or she leaves.

Our strategy is simple: Take care of your most valuable employees and try to hire more people like them to help our operation succeed. People are one of our greatest assets, and we must understand their needs and make sure we meet them to keep them from looking elsewhere for employment.

While in a human resource management class at the University of Florida, I was told that money was not a motivator. In my experience in the dairy industry, this is not true. Employees do physically difficult work, and they expect to be compensated. In our area, local employees will often change jobs for $10 extra a day even if they have no complaints about their job.

Money and benefits draw interest from potential new employees and also keep faithful employees satisfied. At Larson Dairy, we provide housing for most of our employees who work with or feed cows. We also provide housing for on-call employees, such as mechanics and maintenance personnel. We also provide house maintenance for employees living in Larson Dairy houses. Housing is an important benefit that draws employees.

Bonuses are another way we show our employees that we notice and appreciate their efforts. We pass along our milk quality bonus to our employees. We also give extra cow pay when our numbers increase above a set level. Another area where employees can earn a bonus is safety. We pay monthly safety bonuses to all teams that have no workman’s comp injury for the month.

We also have created some team-building events to help motivate employees. We have barbecues for goals met in milk production, percentage of cows pregnant, decreases in cull rate and death loss, and significant increases in milk quality. We also have family events in the spring to recognize long-term service and at Christmas to recognize our manager’s efforts.

We really try to operate like a team. We feel like every person on the team is important to our success. We meet at least twice a month to reevaluate goals and make sure everyone is focused on achieving those goals. Larson Dairy has been blessed with some outstanding employees throughout the years and we realize we need to keep those people on our team to succeed.


Larson's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.6% bf, 3.4% prt) $20.05/cwt.
Cull cows $78 to $80/head
Springing heifers $1,600/head (delivered)
Cottonseed $290/ton
Corn $261/ton
Corn silage $57/ton
Soybean meal $539/ton
Citrus pulp $187/ton
Distillers' grain $250/ton


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