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Opening gates: Staff attraction and retention on New Zealand’s meat and fibre farms

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Executive Summary

This is a research paper into how future employees, current employees and the employers of both, feel about their current situations in their in today’s tight labour market. It is concentrated on the meat and fibre production sector.

The process used for the research below initially involves a literature review from previous Kellogg papers investigating the lack of interest in the primary sectors at a secondary education level. The three papers reviewed present information around the lack of promotion by schools and some misconceptions around the primary industries. It is generally accepted that there needs to be more done to attract people towards the primary industries.

The second part of this research revolves around three surveys. The first is presented to students studying at Lincoln University and as combined with semi-structured interviews with cadets from the Coleridge Downs Cadet School. The second of the surveys targets

employees on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms. This is circulated via social media along with the third survey, which is directed at employers. The employer survey is also circulated through Beef and Lamb NZ. The employee survey has a large uptake with the other two being disappointing. As with the student survey employee and employer survey were combined with informal interviews to gain greater understanding.

The employee survey results unearth some underlying issues of farm, with an over whelming amount or respondents indicating they have given serious consideration towards leaving the sector. The underlying cause of these thoughts are directed at attaining better work-life balance.

The key conclusions from this report are as follows:

That there is some discontentment from senior management employees as they are considering leaving the sector in search of better work-life balance and in some cases greater financial reward.

Future and present employees have a very good understanding of their career paths along with a short time frame to reach management. This may contribute to reaching a ceiling at an early stage in their careers which may contribute to the above- mentioned discontentment.

Key recommendations from this research are:

Industry bodies need to build and promote an appropriate and current template that is relevantly shaped where processes can be implemented that will assist employers when attracting and retaining staff.

There needs to be more research done into why farm staff are considering leaving the sector.

Opening Gates: Staff attraction and retention on New Zealand’s meat and fibre farms – John Fitzgerald