‘Closing the gate’ on an employment relationship

Closed farm gates with sunset in background

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The previous seven articles have explored what good human resource management looks like throughout the employee lifecycle. This last article in this series will discuss some things to consider when ending employment. 

Employment can come to an end for a variety of reasons. The four main reasons are: 

  1. Resignation: a change in family or personal circumstances, or better job offers (pay, conditions etc) 
  2. Retirement: when someone has come to the end of their working career 
  3. Redundancy: a particular role isn’t required anymore, or the business becomes insolvent or bankrupt
  4. Dismissal: poor employee performance or conduct, or changes to operational requirements. 

 When employment ends, you may be required to provide notice and payments. To find out more about the requirements, visit the Fair Work Australia website.

Turnover  

Does your farm gate feel a bit like a revolving door? If so, you may have a problem with what the human resources (HR) profession calls ‘turnover.’ Turnover measures the number of employees who leave a business each year.  

High turnover can indicate problems you might not be aware of. Some examples of why employees might be leaving your business include productivity wastage, low morale, lack of training opportunities or poor career opportunities. Left unaddressed, these can be a drain on your business. Employees moving on quickly may also be because their role and the expectations of that role are not clear. It is recommended to check out the last three articles published as part of this HR series, it might just slowdown that revolving farm gate. 

If it is unclear why employees are leaving your business, it is essential to take the time to understand the reasons. Think about the last employee who left your business. What was the experience like? Did they go on good terms? Or did it get messy? 

Exit interviews 

Exit interviews are an excellent way to learn more about the issues and challenges impacting the productivity, performance and profitability of your farm business. These interviews can be a face-to-face conversation, a questionnaire, a survey, or even a combination of these methods.  

Handled well, an employee leaving can be an excellent opportunity to learn about your business. An exit interview can help you understand from the employee’s perspective: 

  • The reason the person is going (if not already evident)  
  • What works well 
  • What could be done better 
  • How to potentially bridge the gap  
  • Whether your business systems and processes are working the way they should.  

Sometimes, employees are reluctant to provide feedback. For this reason, it can help to get someone independent to conduct the interview, ideally someone who is experienced in HR or people management, or at the very least someone who the employee didn’t report to. 

With the knowledge you have gained from a good exit interview, you can gain insight into where you can invest time, resources, or money into HR initiatives that will help retain and motivate current and future employees.  

Handover  

Before employees leave your business, ensure that tasks and information relevant to their role in the business are handed over to you or reassigned to another employee. 

To manage this handover well, you’ll find it useful to have detailed descriptions in writing of the roles and responsibilities of each position in your business. In an ideal world, the departing employee would spend some time with the person taking on the responsibilities to ‘show them the ropes’. 

Likewise, make sure that any business assets in the employee’s possession are handed back. For this reason, when an employee starts in your business, and throughout their time with you, it’s a good idea to keep a record of the business assets they are entrusted with. Typical items entrusted to staff include: 

  • Mobile phone  
  • Laptops/iPads 
  • Vehicles  
  • Fuel cards 
  • Keys (gates, sheds, vehicles, accommodation). 

Finally, you’ll need to remove departing employees from business systems, such as farm or safety management systems and apps, e-mail accounts, etc. 

Further information 

Over the last couple of months, we have been sharing a series of articles to help you better understand the human part of a successful farm team written by Sally Murfet, Chief Inspiration Officer of Inspire AG. These articles are designed to provide a basic awareness and, where appropriate, lead you to additional resources to help develop your HR systems & process. 

Other articles in this series: 

And that’s a wrap! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the eight articles in this series on managing people to improve how you lead and manage your most important asset – your people. These articles will be followed up with a webinar to look at some areas of HR in more detail. Watch out for the invitation. 

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