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Why Did My Last Good Member of Staff Leave?

by 5m Editor
8 May 2009, at 12:00am

Danish pig farmers, Dorthe and Asger Krogsgaard, shared their experience of retaining staff with delegates at a recent BPEX meeting, 'Change for Success' Providing good facilities and making employees feel part of a successful team are their keys to success, writes Jackie Linden, editor of ThePigSite.

At the start of their presentation at the 'Change for Success' meeting organised by BPEX, Dorthe and Asger Krogsgaard explained that they defined a business strategy in 1991 that involved the drawing up of a ten-year plan for Mogensgaard Farm, which included the hiring of a staff. At that time, they had 120 sows, 2,400 weaners and 2,000 finishers on 30 hectares, farmed by just the two of them.

The Krogsgaards have now been married for 18 years. Dorthe takes care of the accounts and personnel management as well as the couple's four children, while Asger spends four to five days a week managing the unit. He is also chairman of the Danish Bacon and Meat Council and a board member of Danish Crown, Tulip UK and Agro Sokolow.

By 2009, their plan has been fulfilled: they have 1,700 sows producing 45,900 weaners and 15,000 finishers on 725 hectares. They have 12 employees. The Krogsgaards have put a great deal of time and effort in recruiting and retaining staff, and achieved considerable success, which they shared with the meeting participants.


Shared mealtimes help to make the staff feel part of the Mogensgaard team

"Life on our farm is one of our management tools," they explained. This includes catering at the farm, and accommodation is provided for staff. The couple also emphasised the importance of keeping the front room, office, toilet and bathroom at the farm clean and orderly.

"We try to provide a framework for well organised and comfortable conditions for our farm team," they said.

One interesting aspect of the farm management is that all business is conducted in English. This applies to both Danish and foreign employees, a number of whom have been hired to increase the labour supply. The Krogsgaards help the non-local employees with work permits, tax forms, doctor's visits and a social event on Christmas Eve.

An employees' handbook has been compiled, which covers working hours, overtime, sickness regulations, courses/lcal farmers' group meetings, holidays, work clothing and the smoking policy.

The Krogsgaards share with the workers plans/goals/bonuses and the business plan. There is an organisation chart that covers the whole farming group.

"We want to profile our farm to the local community," explained the couple. They achieve this by supporting the local community and telling the local store what is going on at the farm, as well as encouraging visits by schools and clubs. They organise excursions, harvest festivals and Christmas parties, and there is a new mobile hot-dog stand for local events. The farm also has its own web site (click here). Company clothing is provided and the logo is placed on all its tractors.


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"Focus on management and the psychological working environment and everyone will benefit from a great daily life."

The most important aspects of the working environment, the Krogsgaards say, are the well organised conditions and that the employer understand good management: trained as a farmer, Mr Krogsgaard is now a supervisor and he values motivation, coaching and psychological working environment.

Staff training also gets a great deal of attention. This involves participation in courses and local farmer groups. Theme days are organised, as are exchanges with British farmers, and one-on-one conversations are held every three months. Local young people are offered work experience on the farm.

The Krogsgaards feel they offer their employees a workplace of the future. Life on the farm is one of the management tools, they say, and it provides a well organised framework for work.

"We should profile ourselves to the community so each employee can be proud of his/her workplace," they stress.

"Focus on management and the psychological working environment and everyone will benefit from a great daily life."

May 2009