Our people are integral to the success of our business. We require their engagement, and passion, to our business to enable our success. Our People Strategy, underpinned by our values of Integrity, Leadership and Family, is focused on priorities to help us grow our people, care for our people and reward and celebrate our people, to ensure they thrive personally and professionally.
The first key element of our People Strategy is the growth of our people. We achieve this growth through training, personal development, and mentoring opportunities. We have a clear, proven, path to contract milker, sharemilker, and farm ownership for those on farm, and opportunities for personal development for those off-farm.
Over the previous two seasons, we have invested $400k in staff training, membership subscriptions, and development opportunities with external providers.
On the job training forms a significant part of an individual’s progression which is extensively supported by the wider Dairy Holdings team including specific one-on-one training and discussion groups. We recently widened our focus investing more in cross-skilling, coaching and development plans, performance management training and new KPIs. In the 2021/22 season, structured training was provided through 304 sessions to over 2150 people.
We currently have several employees actively progressing through a clear career progression pathway with five internal promotions in the 2022 season on farm, from 2IC to Manager and Managers to Contract Milkers. As part of this widened focus, 40% of people surveyed in our April Engagement Survey indicated that they felt ready to step up as of 1 June 2022.
Operators achieving farm ownership
Aligned with our growth focus, and our values, we have an on-going goal of increasing the equity and number of cows owned by our people. During the season an equity calculator was developed on the Group’s website to help our people track their financial position. At the end of last season 40 operators out of a total of 60 dairy farms introduced 3,700 cows into the herd. Overall, the number of milking cows owned by our people increased by over 700 cows as of 1 June 2022 to 15,896 cows of the Group’s total cow numbers at that date, which indicates a positive trend in increasing equity.
The mental, and physical, health and safety of everyone who is part of the Dairy Holdings team is the second key element of our People Strategy. Our priority is safety first, for our team and we build companywide initiatives around this direction. We provide Wellness Monitoring every year along with providing funded employee counselling and a “speak up” confidential service.
In November 2021, we initiated our first staff engagement survey (Pulse Survey) and we will continue to run these surveys every six months for the foreseeable future. Our April 2022 Engagement Survey showed a 3.8 weighted average score for both health and safety commitment and understanding, compared with 3.8 in November 2021, already exceeding our goal of a 3.5 weighted average.
Our health and safety end of season reviews sat at an average achievement of 82% for the 2022 year which, when compared to our goal of 70% and our previous result of 74%, is a great result. Additionally, we saw positive improvements in the number of on farm Health and Safety meetings, up almost 5% year on year and vehicle checks, up almost 60% year on year.
Our target of five or less “one week away or more” injuries was not met, even though our injuries were down 10% on the previous year.
We are striving to increase on-farm labour productivity enhancements. Through investment in tested and proven technologies, for example automatic cup removers, Max T milking techniques and low application irrigation systems. We are anticipating the labour workload of our employees will decrease resulting in improved farm labour efficiencies.
Reward & Celebrate
The third and final key part of our strategy is around rewarding and celebrating our people. We do this through an internal recognition system, which saw over 100 people recognised for the extra effort they put in over the previous season. We also celebrate our success through our annual Dairy Holdings Annual Conference Awards and at our Regional Dinners.
As part of our strategy, we challenge our sharemilkers and contract milkers (operators) to enter the NZ Dairy Industry Awards. We had great success at the NZ Dairy Industry Awards 2022 with Dairy Holdings operators making up three of the five Canterbury regional finalists. Two operators won regional merit awards and Will Green (featured in the middle) won the National Share Farmer of the Year award and the health and safety, pasture and financial management merit awards, after taking out the title for the Canterbury region.
We are always looking to encourage participation in these awards and have a goal of 50% participation by 2024 (currently 36%). These awards offer our people a great opportunity for personal growth and development, networking, and receiving recognition.
Jonny Brown who contract milks a central Canterbury farm achieved national success at the FMG Young Farmer Contest, placing third.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We are working toward creating, and maintaining, an environment that fosters diversity and equal opportunities for all our team. We are a diverse cultural workforce, with team members who identify as Filipino, Indian, Māori, Pasifika and South American, to name a few. We have a range of ages, from under 20, through to over 60. Irrespective of the age, gender, or ethnicity of any employee, we are committed to ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and has equal opportunities to progress and achieve their individual career goals under the Dairy Holdings umbrella.
Expanding past the direct employees of the Group, we have been proactively supporting our local community by providing sponsorship to Darfield Rural School, NZ Dairy Industry Awards and BrightSIDE. We are joining with the Ministry for Primary Industries in supporting workforce capability projects in line with the DairyNZ “The Great Futures in Dairying Plan”. We look forward to being able to report back on the result of our support in the future.