Rethinking work will help me stand out from the herd - Rory Christie

I am not alone. Sometimes it feels that way but you only have to go on Twitter to realise that the entire farming industry is in the grip of a recruitment crisis. Farming isn’t alone either, many sectors are in the same boat, with customers demanding products or services that there aren’t enough staff to deliver.

Brexit may have exacerbated an existing problem by cutting off a supply of European workers, but the issue of staff shortages within my sector, dairy farming, has been something we’ve been facing for many years.

There is a lack of people with the technical skills needed to work within my diary enterprise, and a lack of people with the dedication to do a job that requires hard work and attention to detail.

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Something fundamental needs to happen to make dairying an attractive career and incentivise people to join my team. I’m quite prepared to be the risk taker who gives change a go.

Rory Christie, The Dourie Farming Company, SW Scotland

Work/life balance is the key. I can’t expect the best from my team if they are exhausted, fed-up of never seeing their families or demotivated by long hours. I expect my team to give their all for the hours they are working for me and in exchange I’m changing shift patterns so that they can have more time off. They can choose to spend that time off with their family, doing a hobby or even working for someone else – as long as when they are in my milking parlour they are giving 100 per cent to the job. I’m offering never seen before shift patterns, with either four days on, four days off or eight days on, eight days off, all for a generous wage and hours that are limited to 40 per week.

My business goals focus on quality, productivity, animal welfare and staff wellbeing and yet I still find it a challenge to recruit. These days, people want more from a job and more from their lives and so that’s where we are going with this new approach. If my team work hard for me, I’ll work hard for them.

On the eight day rota, some staff might even decide they can commute from somewhere else in the UK, avoiding the need to uproot their families.

So where am I going to find my new team members? We’ve caused quite a stir on social media with our new shift pattern and I’m extremely open to employing graduates from the UK or elsewhere or people from overseas. Experience is a benefit but attitude and motivation are more important – the rest can be learned.

Brexit is done, there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Now is the time to address the issues it exacerbated and look to the future. Politicians want a high wage economy and Scotland wants a four-day week – I’m pinning my hopes on the belief that these goals will also work for my business. I want a team which turns up for work feeling refreshed and committed, and in return I offer flexibility and the chance for something other than a job title to define how people spend their time.

Rory Christie, The Dourie Farming Company, SW Scotland www.douriefarming.co.uk

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