Experienced considerable structural change over the past decade

Previous research identified that there is a positive relationship between communication effectiveness and job satisfaction. This means if there is good communication between the manager and employee, the employee is more satisfied with their job leading to improved performance. Staff should know what is going on and what is expected of them, and feel that their ideas are valued and their good performance praised. Communication is essential to creating a strong working relationship and open communication is crucial for a dairy farm business to be productive. It helps set expectations and co-ordinate actions; builds trust; enables people to act on facts not assumptions; and provides feedback on performance.

Communication with employees starts with a clear, well thought out job description. A job description sets out the duties and responsibilities required of the new recruit and also infrequent tasks that the person may need to carry out from time to time. A detailed job description can help eliminate individuals who would not perform well on the job before the hiring process begins. It should be used to communicate with the employee what is expected before starting employment, so if any problem arises over work responsibilities the farmer can quickly refer to the job description.

Communication can occur formally or informally. An example of informal verbal communication that occurs daily would be going through the “to-do” list for the day and assigning people to do different jobs if there is more than one person working on the farm. Information regarding production performance (milking performance, grass covers etc), relevant work or material needed can be informally communicated using WhatsApp group messaging, diaries, books or notice boards. This can be a very effective method of ensuring that everybody working on the farm is up-to-date with critical information, e.g. date of cow treatment with antibiotics or date of fertilizer application.

A simple way of communicating to all employees when the routine jobs such as TB testing, vaccinations etc will be occurring is to use a yearly wall planner – simply a yearly calendar. This can be used as a planning tool to plan for jobs that are clearly known in advance, allowing for clarity about what needs to be done and when. Employees can also record when they are taking holidays in advance. The planner should be placed in a common area where it can be viewed, discussed and modified.

Body language is an important part of communication which can constitute 50% or more of what is communicated. Noticing the signals that people send out with their body language and being able to effectively read those cues is therefore a very useful skill. Excellent communicators are aware that their body language is equally as important as verbal communication in conveying a message to others.