There are 10 full-time employees as well as four part-timers, three calf rearers and a farm assistant. They hail from the Philippines, Australia, Britain and China, and with Susie originally coming from New York, Michael’s the only Kiwi on the farm.
The couple believe in doing their homework to find the right, committed people.
“We work through and do a phone interview to initially see what they’re looking for, to see if they’re going to match with us. Then we progress to at least two reference checks,” Susie said.
“If they make our top grade, then we bring them in for an interview.”
Here they have learnt to watch for warning signs.
“We’ll ask them the question, ‘How soon can you start?’ to see what their response is. If they immediately say, ‘Just give me four weeks for notice and I’ll come’, it’s not really on, and we’re thinking, ‘You could do that to me’.”
They’re also careful with job titles, making sure they clarify exactly what experience applicants have.
“We need to make sure the people we’re recruiting understand our role and our expectations.”
On the first phone call Susie tells applicants they have a drug and alcohol policy on the farm.
“They might say it’s not an issue, but then I never hear back from them.”
New staff have to sign an authorisation they accept breath alcohol testing and drug tests. They’re also given an orientation, shown the farm map, driven round the property, shown accommodation and introduced to other staff over the first few months.
Once a month Michael sits down with each staff member to check everything’s going well and to set some short term goals.
“It gives them buy-in.”