Paid Vacation Time Boosts Morale and Can Improve Your Bottom Line

December 18, 2015 10:05 AM
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The harvest hustle is taxing. As a farmer, you might look forward to a post-harvest vacation each year, but do you offer your employees the same break? Research shows employees who take time away from work are more productive and the next few months is the perfect time to test it out.


“Offering employees paid time off can really boost not only morale, but overall productivity too,” Johanns says. “This is especially true in the winter when daily tasks may slowdown.A study conducted by Ohio State University found only 4% of farm workers are offered paid vacation time. Offering your employees paid time away is an easy way to boost morale, according to Ann Johanns, an Iowa State extension program specialist.

How Much Time Are We Talking?

It will be different for each farm. A study done by the Society for Human Resources in 2004 found the average number of vacation days offered to employees in the U.S. ranges from 9 to 21. Don’t panic! It’s clear that much time away from the farm is likely not achievable for most operations.

Cody Heller, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and dairy consultant, says he offers all of his employees who have worked on his farm for at least one year double time on holidays and 10 days of paid vacation. He says not all employees take it, and some ask for the cash equivalent, but he’s happy to oblige.

Where to Start

Johanns suggest farmers begin by identifying which employees in your operation will qualify for time off. Next you must decide how your time off program will work. Do employees have a specific number of allotted vacation hours or are they accrued over time? Are they required to take time off during a specific time of the year?

She recommends farmers sit down with all of their employees and make a master calendar of when each worker would like to request time off so plans can be made accordingly.

“It pays to know in advance to ensure the employee’s responsibilities are taken care of appropriately,” she says.

Heller says communication is key when it comes to human resources on the farm.

How Much Will It Cost?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, vacation time costs an average of $1.03 per hour or 3.6 percent of and employee’s total compensation.

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