Is your farm attracting the right employees?

Is your farm attracting the right employees?

The people working on your farm make a big difference

As your farm has grown, you've likely had to hire an employee – or maybe you've hired quite a few. But first you have to find the right candidate and make sure they're a good fit for your farm.

Related: Can your farm employees think like owners?

Sometimes that's easier said than done. I've heard from many farmers who say it can be tough to find quality help. It can be more of an issue if your farm is located in a very rural or remote area; the pool of good potential employees is simply smaller.

Is your farm attracting the right employees? (Thinkstock/JannHuizenga)

The fact is, who you hire can make a big difference to the farm, in a good or bad way. In the past, some farmers may have thought that since the job involves manual labor, the person hired doesn't make that much of a difference. But the quality of your employees directly impacts the success of your operation, even your bottom line.

A big liability
Here's the situation one farmer found himself in. He farmed in a very rural, low population area. His operation was growing and he had to seek and hire several full-time employees for the first time. The search process was tough because he didn't know what he should do to attract employees to his farm or how to screen and select them.

Eventually, he was able to hire several employees. However, one of the employees was very problematic. The employee regularly came to work drunk. Sometimes, he even drank on the job. He basically showed up when he felt like it, so he was very unreliable.

The other employees on the farm saw what was happening. All of them were angry because of what was going on. The employee's bad behavior was allowed to continue, and that impacted the other employees' attitudes. They became confused and upset as to why something wasn't being done about the situation.

A new process
Meanwhile, the farmer felt like his hands were tied. If he let this employee go, how was he going to find another one? He knew the employee was a huge potential liability for his farm business, but he didn't want to go through trying to find a replacement.

The farmer decided to work with a firm that helped farms with HR and employees. They helped him recruit and screen for a new employee. When he started that process, he felt he could fire the employee who had caused him so much worry and problems. A new, much higher-quality employee was hired within a few weeks and turned out to be a great fit for the farm.

Related: 5 ways managers can enhance farm employee motivation

What are your farm's greatest challenges when it comes to HR and employees? Is it finding quality employees? Knowing how to screen them? Or maybe it's more about how best to manage them, once they're hired. How do you find quality help for your farm? What has worked best for you?

Get ideas on farm leadership and management topics – in excerpts from a panel discussion with Dr. Mike Boehlje, Dr. David Kohl, Jolene Brown and Dr. Danny Klinefelter. You'll find it in the most recent issue of our Smart Series publication.

The opinions of Darren Frye are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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