Workforce planning

Explore the critical roles, skills and attributes you want to have on your farm

When dealing with so much change as we are right now, it is so important to make sure that you have the right people in your business to help provide resilience. By exploring the roles, skills and attitudes your business needs, and having a strategy for recruiting and retaining employees with these attributes, you will get an empowered workforce to achieve your farm business goals.

This webinar explains what to consider when workforce planning, and we’ve provided some next steps for you to follow below:


Starting from a blank piece of paper, if you were to set up a new farm business tomorrow, what would you need?

Step 1 – What sort of business do you want to be?

  • Consider the 'values' you want to underpin your business. You can use this values worksheet to help you consider which values are most important to you
  • What sort of reputation do you want your business to have (internally and externally)? By developing your reputation, you will set yourself up as an employer that people actively seek to work for
  • Which 'brand' would you want your business to identify with? Alongside your reputation, this will help you to develop how your business is seen by others, including potential recruits, suppliers, customers or even bank managers

Step 2 – Calculate your staff profile

Create a table for your business like the one shown below. Consider the extra resource you will need to cover for staff holidays, etc.

Dairy Milker
Dairy Feed

Step 3 – Recruitment and retention

  • Consider what sort of people you want in your business over the coming years
  • If you require new workers, is it more important to recruit for attitude and train up the right person, rather than recruiting someone purely for their experience? Have you considered an apprenticeship
  • Recognise the local competition for labour, and reward new recruits for the value they bring to your business
  • Focus on staff retention – encourage and accept both positive and negative feedback from staff and make necessary changes. The improvements to the workplace suggested by your staff could make your business more appealing to a new generation of workers with a different set of needs

Step 4 – Get your paperwork in order

  • Written Statement of Particulars of Employment (contract): visit the ACAS website for further advice and document templates 
  • Job descriptions: Ensuring that you are clear about the tasks to be carried out will make recruitment easier and help monitoring against performance in staff appraisals 
  • Protocols: What are your policies and procedures for health and safety, biosecurity, probation, holidays and parental leave, social distancing, using social media, etc?
  • Induction process: Having this set up and available to new recruits before they start will demonstrate your commitment to employee engagement from day one. Use our induction process template as a guide, and consider providing a plan of the site including the location of toilets, rest areas, canteens, etc. Even if it seems obvious to you, providing new starters with too much information is better than not enough! 
  • Holiday tracker: Both hard copy or free Excel versions of holiday planners can be sourced online
  • Training tracker: We have a separate webinar and downloadable on-farm tools to help you record training and skills, and identify the areas where more training is needed – visit Training your team for business success 

Step 5 – Invest in your people

  • Identify skills gaps within the team
  • Understand the team’s training needs and goals
  • Discuss career progression within your business
  • Consider your staff succession
  • All of these can be explored by having regular staff appraisals – more guidance and templates are available on our effective staff appraisals web page 


For more detailed information about workforce planning, visit the CIPD website