Episode 16 – Do we need a mindset shift towards staff?

In Podcasts2 MinutesMay 3, 2024

With more responsibility and skill needed by all staff, dairy farming isn’t the job it used to be. The incoming workforce might have higher qualifications than their previous counterparts, but two thirds of new farm workers don’t last beyond their first year onfarm.

So are we in need of a mindset change? In this episode we dive into how to make the most of an upskilled generation of workers and discuss how to keep them in farming businesses for longer.

Guests include:

  1. Shamubeel Eaqub, Principal Economist, NZIER
  2. Tony Dodunski, CEO, Ag Assist
  3. Chris Coughlan, Partner at Rural Coach


  1. Sheryl Haitana, Editor, Dairy Exporter
  2. Sarah Perriam-Lampp, managing director of CountryWide Media


According to Shamubeel Eaqud, Principal Economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, we need a significant change in mindset when it comes to keeping farm workers in our farming businesses. With farm systems more complicated than ever and requiring a higher level of responsibility from each farm worker he says the key to retaining staff is to stop thinking “what can staff do for me”, and start thinking about “what can I do for them?”.

Meanwhile, Tony Dodunski is striving to simplify the hiring of farm workers with his game-changing app Ag Assist. Connecting farmers and workers, the app allows users to see what is available in their area, from long-term to casual work. Opening up opportunities to utilise groups of people who have usually been forgotten, such as stay-at-home-parents, or retirees.

Integrating everyone onfarm into being a part of the business, and letting them take initiative within the business is key and our third guest, Rural Coach Partner Chris Coughlan says farmers need to be thinking about how they can build their own leadership skills, and use these to upskill and motivate their teams.