Engaged Employees: Key to Successful Farm Business

When employees think like owners, everyone wins

In a past blog post, Build Your Team on the Farm, I talked about ideas for training your employees. A reader commented that it's challenging to get non-owner employees to think and act like "owners" of the farm.

That's a good point. It's a challenge in any business. But you can build some processes into the culture of your farm that help foster an "ownership" mentality in everyone, even non-owners.

Think about what you, as the farm owner, do for your business. You go the extra mile to make sure things get done. You work to improve the efficiency of your operations. You build strong business relationships with landlords and your banker. You have a mindset of responsibility because the success of the business ultimately falls on you.

What if all of your employees took that same mindset? You can empower them to think and act like owners. Encourage them to contribute any ideas they have to improve operations. It could be something that cuts costs or helps the farm become more efficient.

You will want to make it clear to them that everyone's ideas will be considered, regardless of their position. Show them how even small changes can affect the farm on a larger scale. The most important thing is that they understand how their ideas directly make the farm more successful.

You could even give them authority to put an approved idea into action. That gives them more incentive to take ownership of the whole process – and to make sure the farm sees results.

Reward employees for contributions that help the farm succeed. Remember that it doesn't necessarily have to be a financial reward. It could be something like taking the employee and his or her spouse out for a nice dinner.

Post successful ideas from employees where everyone can see them – on the shop wall or bulletin board. What matters the most to the employee is being recognized.

Employees want to be part of a successful operation. When they understand what sorts of things are important for the farm to flourish – and why – they'll start to think of their job in terms of those areas. They realize that when the farm wins, they win. They start to think like an owner.

Implementing employee ideas affects how your employees feel about their jobs. More engaged employees mean less turnover – and lower costs of finding, hiring and training new employees. It's a win-win situation for everyone on the farm – and it's something you can start doing right away.

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