Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


2015 Banff Pork Seminar

Full time staff trainer pays off for HyLife

Date posted: January 23, 2015

Richard Taillefer, HyLife

Anyone who operates a hog operation of any scale today knows the value of labor.

Richard Taillefer, the director sow / nursery production for HyLife, a large hog production operation based in La Broquerie, Man., told delegates at the Banff Pork Seminar in actual dollar terms how much employee retention means to their company.

HyLife says the cost of employee turnover is 50 percent of annual income for less experienced employees and as much as 100 percent or more of experienced employees.

Faced with higher turnover in their employees than they wanted, they addressed the issue by hiring a full time staff trainer. That kick-started an entirely new approach to dealing with employees beginning with how they are hired to every experience they had from their first day on the farm.

Starting a new job on a hog farm can be intimidating, says Taillefer. Finding the way to work the first day down country roads, often in the dark, following sometimes obscure directions is one example. Or following strict biosecurity requirements such as showering into a facility with staff arriving for the day is another example.

Today HyLife has completely revamped its approach and it has resulted in a reduction of employees turnover of roughly 32 percent, says Taillefer. The advantage of a trainer is that training is more systematic. The trainer has more time so it is a more detailed experience for employees. It relieves pressure on staff to do the training, and it doesn't interfere with production as much. And the employee is more comfortable.

For example the day one experience for new staff that have no experience sees the trainer meet the new employee off site and drive them to the facility. Arrival is planned so that it is not the same time as regular staff making it is a more personal experience.

Biosecurity is covered and barn entrance protocols explained. New employees are introduced to staff and management one person at a time. New employees will watch a video and have details of where they are working explained. Then they will have a five week training experience for each aspect of hog production.

Experienced staff would have the same treatment except that their training time would be shortened to be covered in one week.

Not everyone is in the position to hire a full time training, but the HyLife experience shows the importance of training generally, says Taillefer.

His recommendations are to take time to train employees. Emphasize details so they know what is important. Clearly explain what expectations are. Answer questions and follow up with employees.


Download the pdf of this article

Download the pdf of this article.