Can't Find Farm Labor? Here's Why.

October 6, 2018 06:08 AM
 
Yes, creating an engaged team with a low turnover rate is difficult. But it’s vital and not impossible.

How to fill your talent pipeline in a tight labor market

At 3.9%, the U.S. unemployment rate is near the 10-year low. Earlier this year—for the first time on record—the number of American job openings exceeded the number of job seekers. And where is unemployment the lowest? The Corn Belt and Great Plains states. 

Yes, creating an engaged team with a low turnover rate is difficult. But it’s vital and not impossible.

First, start with finding viable candidates. “Your best recruiting tool is your reputation as an employer,” says Richard Hadden, a leadership consultant at Contented Cow Partners. “But it is the reality of your workplace that will retain and engage people for the long-term; reputation recruits and reality retains.”

To find employees in the current market environment, use the obvious tools and a few that are out of the box, Hadden suggests. Place ads with your local newspaper, TV and trade magazines. These can help you find the best of the unemployed, he says. Also, consider posting an ad on your church bulletin board.

 Use the Internet or social media to post openings. Also, pay special attention to your farm website’s career or team section. “At most, websites list job openings, rather than doing what it should do, which is creating your employer brand and giving potential stars a look inside your workplace,” Hadden says.

Build Your Bench. Create relationships with local universities, suggests Erika Osmundson, director of marketing and communications for AgCareers.com. “Start a simple internship program to start bringing in young talent,” she suggests. “So many young people want to return to the farm. If they don’t have their own farm to return to, they make great long-term employees.”

Your team’s community presence is also a great recruiting tool, she says. “As a farm, you can pay membership fees for your employees to get them out there talking about the good parts of working for the operation.”

With a competitive job landscape, retaining good employees takes effort. “Good retention starts at the crucial moment of onboarding,” Osmundson says. “Have proper training and tools ready so people can be successful at their job.”

Strive to foster a good culture on your farm. “The biggest motivators are recognition and a feeling of accomplishment,” Osmundson says. “Make sure you’re giving praise and recognition along the way. Also, even in seasonal downtimes, ensure your employees are doing meaningful work, so they feel they are valued.”

Realize how important your employees are to your future success—regardless of your operation’s size—and make the investment. “Creating a focused, engaged and capably led workforce is one of the best things you can do for your bottom line,” Hadden says.  

 

Can’t Find Farm Labor? Here’s Why.

You face a competitive labor landscape when hiring employees for your operation, based on the latest unemployment numbers. In addition to a limited number of job candidates, employers report a lack of skills or experience makes hiring difficult.

 

Unemployment Rate by State 

Unemployment Rate by State

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Source: Bureau of Labor

 

Recruiting Difficulty 

Recruiting Difficulty

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Source: AgCareers.com 2017-18 Agribusiness Human Resources Review

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