Swine Farm Employees Say Job Satisfaction Means More than Money

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

A new study of swine farm employees from companies representing 5% of the U.S. sow production base found more than age, experience or even pay, job satisfaction influences worker performance.

The study, led by Summit Precision Production (SPP), listed doing meaningful work as a close second to job satisfaction. The amount of pay was less important.

Labor management has a major impact on profitable swine production. New tools used to assess employees within their working environment provide valuable insights into optimizing worker satisfaction and performance – factors that directly and positively impact farm performance, according to a SPP release. 

Slat-level swine employees were engaged in the study using Cloverleaf and PXT assessment tools. Some managers were surprised to learn, when factoring in the human element, a farm was more likely to have more pigs weaned per mated female per year output (PW/MF/Y) when taking into account employee satisfaction. 

In this study, the measurement of successful employees was tied specifically to each farm’s PW/MF/Y.

“From a supervisor’s standpoint you would expect experience to play a large role in supervisor satisfaction, yet we found that job satisfaction and culture was most impactful to performance,” says Jon Hoek, CEO of SPP.  

Worker satisfaction was also a big factor in determining if a supervisor would hire that person again. 

“As we historically look at individual farms, it is remarkable that nearly every one of them is not fully staffed,” says Valerie Duttlinger, production analyst for Swine Management Services of Fremont, Neb. “This underscores the problem that pork producers face and amplifies why these studies are so necessary.” 

Hoek says the Cloverleaf and PXT tools used by SPP offer swine producers a way to benchmark their teams, assess strengths and find opportunities to optimize worker satisfaction. 

“We currently measure group performance metrics like rate of gain and feed efficiency. Now we can factor in the human element and its impact on proficiency in the barn,” Hoek says.

Swine Management Services conducted the surveys. Central Life Sciences, the National Pork Board, Pig Easy, Farm Credit of Mid America, Arm and Hammer, Swine Tech and PIC also provided support for this study. 

More from Farm Journal's PORK:

PORK Poll: What Motivates You to Do Your Job Well?

Stop Treating Employees Like Commodities

5 Tips to Create Employee Success. It Starts On Day 1