Any dairy farmer can attest that contented cows give better milk. But how satisfied are employees of dairy processing firms? Are they happy where they are working, or are they job hopping?

An exclusive Dairy Foods job satisfaction study finds that, by and large, employees like where they work. That’s as true for the CEO as it is for the hourly employee on the processing floor.

Still, one in five of those surveyed are searching for a new job. What’s the reason? More money, of course, as well as a more challenging position and a shorter commute.

About two-thirds (68%) of dairy employees told us that they are satisfied with their current job. Slightly more (70%) say they are satisfied with their co-workers. It’s a different story when it comes to their bosses. Sixty-seven percent are satisfied with their supervisor and just 57% with the senior leadership team at their company.

In September, Dairy Foods’ survey arm, BNP Market Research, sent a questionnaire to those working in dairy processing. Responses came back from those at companies making ice cream, fluid milk products, cheese, cultured foods and other dairy products. Those surveyed have been in the dairy industry an average of 14 years and have been working at their current employer for an average of nine years.

Job functions include sales and marketing (21%), owner/president (16%), plant operations management (13%), quality assurance/quality control (13%) and research and development (13%). Most (82%) were exempt (salaried) employees and 18% were non-exempt (hourly).

More satisfying benefits

To improve their job satisfaction, respondents said higher pay (46%) and more vacation time (31%) would help. Better retirement programs, better health care benefits and fewer hours were each cited by 19%.

Overall, those in the dairy processing industry feel they are qualified in their current position, and are fairly compensated for what they do. They also feel that their employer is well regarded. Half said their company is a leader in the dairy processing industry and 21% said it is a leader among all food-related consumer packaged goods companies. On the other hand, nearly one in five regard their employer as a follower, not a leader.

For the most part, employers offer employees continuing education and nearly half reimburse associates for college tuition costs. At some point during their employment, respondents have taken a course to improve their skills. Only 20% of respondents have not taken a course and have no plans to do so.

A majority (59%) of companies offer training courses and 49% offer reimbursement for college tuition. There is a communication problem, however; 19% of respondents do not know their company’s reimbursement policy. Managers review the job performance of those under them. About half of those surveyed say they receive regular feedback and formal reviews from their supervisor.

Happy bosses

So where does one find the most satisfied employees in the dairy processing industry? Look to the executive suite. Those with the job function of owner or president report an 80% job satisfaction rating, followed by sales/marketing (74%), plant operations management (72%), R&D (55%) and QA/QC (45%).

One explanation for the low satisfaction score by those in R&D and quality assurance/quality control functions could be their age and tenure. Compared with other respondents, these employees are millennials with less industry experience. Also, they are less satisfied with their supervisor and the company’s senior leadership team and they want higher pay and more involvement by senior leadership.

What’s the take-away for an owner of a dairy processing company? Hire qualified individuals, give them challenging work, pay them fairly, talk to them and make sure they take their vacation days.   


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