What do employers and employees want on a farm?
David Wilson speaks with John Joe Ryan from Farm Relief Services(FRS), to find out what exactly makes a good employer and a good employee

Farm labour has become a major issue on the ground across the sector. The shortage of labour across Irish farms means it is no surprise that numerous farm workers are being sought at the Agri Careers Expo in the RDS on 14 February.

FRS Network specialise in the provision of skilled operators to meet employer requirements. They are seeking to fill over 90 jobs at the Agri Careers Expo alone.

John Joe Ryan of FRS sits down with Irish Country Living to identify what both employers and employees want when it comes to labour on a farm.

He details exactly what farm employers want from their employees, as well as what characterises a good employer.

What employers want

“The two biggest things an employer is looking for is experience and good references.

"There is a myth out there that you now need an agricultural degree from college to work on a farm but this is far from true.

"Employers really just want a responsible operator that has good experience and a good reputation.

Gender doesn’t really matter. Farm workers are mostly men which is traditional, but we would nearly always get positive feedback on any female employees

“The first thing we do at FRS is read through CVs, application forms and ring up references.

"The key traits that we look for are reliability, attitude – are they willing to learn, responsibility and punctuality. Dairy farmers in particular want milking to start on time, excellent treatment of animals and equipment and high standards of work.

“Getting experience, let alone ‘good’ experience, may be difficult to get if you’re only starting out looking for a job or if you are not from a farming background. You should consider doing a few courses, going to farm walks or getting licences (like a trailer licence).

"One thing that has proved very popular with employers is the FRS best practice in milking course that we run.

Employers will pick up on small things such as cleanliness, attention to detail and care for animals

"This is a two-day programme that runs in both a classroom and on farm setting and gives participants practical skills that are valued by dairy farm employers. FRS training also run a host of courses that are worth considering.

“Gender doesn’t really matter. Farm workers are mostly men which is traditional, but we would nearly always get positive feedback on any female employees. Similarly, age does not really have much bearing on this line of work.

"We recruit a good mix of people from college students to older farmers with spare time on their hands or smaller farmers looking for extra income. Employers will pick up on small things such as cleanliness, attention to detail and care for animals.”

What employees want

“Farm workers can be hard to find and hard to keep. Employers should be considerate of how the farm is seen from the outside.

"People who are applying to FRS for work will always ask us about what the employer is like to work for.

"They want to know the exact job specification, how often they will get paid and they will look for testimonials.

Employers need to also understand that their employees may rely on this farm work to make a living

“While employees should be reliable and respectful to their boss, the same can be expected the other way.

"Respect for an employee is important; they shouldn’t be undermined or demoralised. Even small things like praising good work or offering a cup of tea to a worker makes a big difference.

“Employers need to also understand that their employees may rely on this farm work to make a living.

"It is recommended that you give employees at least five hours work per day, to make going to work worthwhile, especially if an employee is travelling far.

“Communication is a key aspect to keeping employees satisfied in their job. If possible, plan out your work in advance and let the worker know in good time when they are working.

"Also as in any workplace, confidentiality between workers and their boss is very important and should be kept in mind.”

Tips for employers

  • Respect your employees.
  • Treat them fairly.
  • Give employees enough hours.
  • Communicate with them regularly.
  • Consider situations from employee’s perspective.
  • Tips for employees

  • Get experience.
  • Be on time.
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Show attention to detail.
  • Be responsible.