Pork Managers' Perception of Labor Management Practices and Their Risks

Although managing labor has become important for farm operations’ success, training and education for farm managers focuses on agricultural production management and few studies provide an empirical basis on how agricultural labor management differs from labor management in other industries. With the exception of Hurley et al., little is known about labor management practices in pork production, specifically. This study used the focus group discussion method with four focus group meetings in Michigan and two in Kansas in 2006. The average group size was four participants. All group discussions were tape-recorded and transcribed. The ATLAS-TI software was used to support the data analysis. Labor management topics discussed were as follows (order based on the amount of discussion dedicated to each topic): (1) performance management, (2) compensation, (3) recruitment, (4) training, (5) working conditions and organizational structure of farms, (6) selection, (7) hiring immigrant employees, (8) discipline, (9) performance evaluation, (10) social environment, and (11) labor law. Labor management practices, labor attributes, and work characteristics were analyzed within each category and characterized as risk reducing or risk increasing, according to managers’ perceptions. An educational pilot workshop was developed based on the focus group discussions and delivered in both Michigan and Kansas. Topics covered in the workshops included recruitment and selection, training, employee evaluation, compensation, conflict management, discipline and termination, communication, and motivation. Workshops were evaluated both immediately afterwards, through written anonymous workshop evaluations and through phone interviews. While most participants were able to point to specific content learned and had started to implement changes, hoping to increase productivity and/or reduce costs, few were able to quantify the monetary value of those changes.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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