……….It is every employer’s nightmare, little signs over the weeks that leave you with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, just waiting for the call – or more often, the text to say they are not coming back to work- but what can you do about it?
Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is absolutely the WRONG thing to do- this will only result in both of you feeling resentful, emotions running high and potentially arguments that result in things being said that everyone regrets.
Talk to your member(s) of staff regularly, sit and have a cuppa at some point every week and ask them if every thing is ok, are they happy with the horses, is the yard running well? Ask if they have any suggestions as to how the yard may be improved, make them feel part of the team – (even if it is only to 2 of you).
If you have a large yard with lots of staff then I highly recommend delegating the HR (Human resources) role to some one. You may laugh and say that this is the equestrian world, not e-commerce or banking – but the equestrian world has fallen behind the other industries as employers because it presumes so much about its employees. It is easy to assume that an employee will work all day everyday because it’s horses, that they won’t want a lunch hour, work from dawn until dusk when you are out at shows, that they won’t want the paid 4 weeks holiday they are entitled to, or the sick pay, maternity leave or pension just because they are horse mad!
But we have a new generation of well educated grooms, they have Further Education Diplomas or Higher Education Degrees and an understanding that goes way beyond the horse mad girls of yesteryear, and now employers have to move with the times too. They must be familiar with employment law, with the HMRC’s requirements, with holiday/sick/maternity pay – and pensions too! The list is endless and for the un-initiated, very daunting. The danger of the fear of becoming an employer is that you avoid it completely and then a string of unqualified, temporary staff are relied on: they may not be insured, they may not pay their taxes, they can terminate their employment with out notice, all of these factors contribute to the demise of the reputation of the equestrian industry as a credible employer for the next generation of grooms coming through.
Some employers are themselves employees: by virtue of their day jobs, they pay a groom to do their horses while they are at work. These yards may fall through the net in terms of standards and working conditions, because it’s only at home, not a professional yard, it’s is easy to think that employment regulations and standards do not apply. Some sole position employers load an a colossal amount of work on to their staff and over the past few years the number of competent sole charge grooms has reduced enormously because they will no longer work long lonely hours for minimal reward.
Grooms nationwide are becoming more discerning, and top grooms are frankly able to be very choosy about where they work. Gone are the days of 60 hour weeks and less than minimum wage. It is time for employers to look at their working conditions and remuneration packages and treat their staff properly. Then you will end up with loyal long serving staff, then the equestrian industry will be able to hold its head high as a credible career option in an increasingly professional world.
If you are unsure why you struggle to find good staff, and when you do they either decline your job offer or don’t stay with you long, then we can help with yard visits and advice. Whether you employ one member of staff or 25 we can evaluate and help you to improve the working environment, and therefore help you to employ your TOP GROOM, if you would like to to take advantage of our expertise please register here
Premier Equestrian Recruitment are now able to offer employers personal individual advice or group workshops. We will be covering areas such as how to make your job the ‘TOP JOB’ that maximizes the applications you receive, how to to write the most enticing and truthful advert, person and job specification. Advice on how to interview; what are the right questions to ask, how to read between the lines and how to sieve the wheat from the chaff and appoint your perfect member of staff. Possibly most importantly how to communicate your decision to the successful and the not successful applicants. Telling some one they have not been successful in their application for a the job can be very hard- and some employers just don’t bother, leaving applicants wondering and disillusioned. We, at Premier Equestrian Recruitment believe that an employer should have the confidence to call the unsuccessful candidate giving full feedback about positives and areas to improve, only then can they work on their weaknesses to improve and become the successful applicant, making the equestrian industry a healthier place to employ and be employed.