Every Dairy Needs an Employee Handbook

One of the most important resources a dairy can develop to enhance and grow employee communications and retain employees is an employee handbook.  A handbook can be as simple as the job description, lists of benefits including paid time off, medical insurance, expectations of each employee and the employees hourly wage.  And an employee handbook can go into much greater detail such as the goal and mission of the dairy, the policies, dress code, safety, employee training and more.  It is best to have more detail than not enough. Keep in mind as you develop your handbook, the more details and depth of the handbook, the greater the communication tool for employees.  The handbook is one of the first communication building tools for new and existing employees. It leaves everything in black and white instead of having a gray area.  It is also a tool for equal treatment of employees.  
Tom Maloney, Cornell University, suggests four reasons for having an employee handbook:

  1. Improve the image of the farm business by conveying that employees are important and that the farm employer has carefully thought out employee policies.
  2. Aid communication with employees.
  3. Help assure that all employees are treated fairly and consistently.
  4. Encourage employers to face important decisions about employee policies rather than continuing to postpone them.
How do you begin developing a handbook?  Below are some resources that can assist you in developing your employee handbook.

Employee Handbook Development Guide
Farm Employee Handbook-a starting
 guide

After your employee handbook is developed, it is recommended to review the handbook at least annually.  The annual review process ensures that is stated in the handbook is actually happening on the dairy.  And there may be some sections or policies that are no longer relevant.  
Taking the time to develop this communication tool will save time and money in the long run.