Blue River Dairy

Change in approach needed in tough recruitment environment

Recruitment and staff retention have been identified as key challenges for regional New Zealand industry, and Southland business Blue River Dairy is addressing this by implementing an innovative scheme to engage and reward their team, keeping their seats full, and their company culture strong.

The Trophy Programme incentive scheme was developed to combat the current challenging employment and recruitment landscape, whilst offering a unique, fun and inclusive way of meeting targets within the company.

It was crafted to support the teams and the particular challenges each division face operationally. Feedback is taken from each team, and incentives are crafted around that to ensure staff are functionally supported but also rewarded for their successes.

The trophies set targets which break the business’ overall goals into small steps that can be achieved quickly.

Examples include daily production volume targets, getting training records up-to-date and, with a focus on wellbeing, completing a reflection survey on what staff are most grateful for and proud of achieving.

When a target is hit, even if it is mainly the responsibility of one particular area, all staff are rewarded, which is aligned to Blue River’s value of winning together. This means everyone supports each other’s objectives, building a collaborative team culture.

Every month, the objectives are developed, and teams can keep an eye on their progress with the Trophy Tracker displayed on communal TVs to ensure targets will be met for that task duration.

Blue River Dairy General manager Robert Boekhout said the Trophy Programme incentive has been an integral initiative to the business given the current employment environment.

“Employment and recruitment are tough for a lot of businesses presently and implementing a scheme like this has led to a more engaged team whilst continuing to fuel the sense of community throughout the company,” he said.

Keeping a high morale is integral to the running of any business, and Blue River Dairy has noticed first-hand how important incentive programmes are to ensure a happy and healthy working environment for employees.

The rewards vary from supermarket vouchers and fuel vouchers, presenting real value to the team members, especially due to the economic climate in a post-COVID environment and rising inflation.

Blue River Dairy Health and Safety Administrator Lauren Walker said the trophy reward system was beneficial to the whole business as the incentives are meaningful within the work environment and the rewards help to take the sting out of daily living.

“Being a single mum and having this reward system in place takes one less pressure off when doing the weekly food shop,” Walker said.

Southland Business Chamber CEO Sheree Carey commented Blue River Dairy has set the bar in workplace wellness.

“This type of innovation from Blue River Dairy is not surprising. Staff satisfaction is core to their business, having won the Workplace Wellbeing Award 2019 at the Southland Business Excellence Awards for their ‘Healthy Me’ wellbeing programme.

“They are now encouraging other organisations to follow suit and sponsor the Workplace Wellbeing award. This type of initiative is truly commendable, and in such a challenging recruitment and retention environment it has some true commercial wins, as well as happy motivated staff,” Carey said.

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