People smarts keep farm life free of trouble

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Jane Muir of PeopleSmarts.
Jane Muir of PeopleSmarts.

A website that focuses on creating good communication skills and employer relationships is receiving about 4000 hits a month.

Dairy NZ developed PeopleSmart specifically for Kiwi dairy farmers, and it's rapidly becoming a popular source of information with its expanding audience.

Team leader Jane Muir says it offers practical advice and information about employment, legal obligations and managing staff.

Launched in 2012, the website's traffic has increased by 300 per cent and is continuing to rise, she says.

"Probably this time last year we were getting under 1000 hits but it's been steadily growing."

Creating healthy working relationships on the farm is its key objective, she says.

"It's about good communication and people understanding what is expected from them in both directions.

"The employer being clear about what they need on-farm, and paying fairly for that, and the employees signing up knowing what will be expected from them.

"That will include money but also things like training, what sort of environment they should expect, how often they will be communicated with and if there will be team meetings."

A series of quick-start booklets are another tool that has been released to farmers, including a recruitment kit and productivity kit.

Almost 10,000 have been printed.

"The recruitment kit helps people to recruit people and contains interview guides and job descriptions," says Muir.

"It gives people forms to fill out around health and safety to make sure they cover off those orientations."

The productivity kit is aimed at managing people once they're employed, she says.

"It runs through a plan about the employment environment, planning how you are going to run your farm team meetings, manage performance training, coaching and time-sheets."

The website has been written primarily for employers but DairyNZ is intending to upload an employees' section within the year, she says.

Enquiries to the call centre depend on the season but it has been well used by farmers.

"It depends on the time of year what questions we get asked," says Muir.

"Coming up, we will be asked recruitment questions because everyone is going through recruitment around May.

"Then you might get more contract-type questions in August when somebody hasn't done a contract or something isn't working out, or about hours of work."

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