Two farmers in a field examining wheat crop. Zoran Zeremski/ThinkstockPhotos

HR Challenges? Your farm is not alone

Competing for talent and recruiting is number one concern among agribusinesses, according to new study.

Don’t worry, you aren’t the only farm with human resources concerns. Every organization has common challenges, from hiring the right people, to keeping them happy.  However, some industries are inundated with their own unique set of concerns. recently analyzed responses from more than 100 U.S. agribusinesses regarding today’s most concerning human resource matters. This survey of managers and HR professionals, the U.S. Agribusiness HR Review, revealed interesting results highlighting the most pressing human capital issues in agriculture. 

Top Ag HR concerns

  1. Competing for Talent and Recruiting Difficulties – It was no surprise that the number one concern for U.S. ag organizations is competing for and recruiting the right people for their workforce. The trend of recruiting difficulties seemed to emerge as employers hinted of their difficulties through several different areas such as applicants without the necessary skills or experience. In addition, recruitment difficulties were noted as the second most common factor affecting workforce planning, behind voluntary turnover. Agricultural employers noted that technical and hourly/non-exempt roles were the most difficult to recruit for, with the challenges of hourly employee recruitment showing a significant increase from the previous year.
  2. Employee Training and Development – Training and development ranked as the second most common concern among survey participants.  This can also be validated as training and development was noted as a top method used by employers to keep employees challenged and productive in their roles.  Training initiatives support employees in their current role and help them prepare for future positions as well.  As companies seek to retain top performers, it will remain a challenge to provide opportunities to expand skills, knowledge, and experience at an affordable cost.
  3. Fair and Competitive Compensation – Fair and competitive compensation systems ranked as the third most common concern among respondents.  Competitive pay and the total compensation package is also one of the top ways in which employers’ plan to compete against other employers for talent.  If farms fall behind in the compensation area, it could have serious consequences in their ability to compete against other employers.
  4. Managing a Multigenerational Workforce -  Managing a multigenerational workforce was the fourth most common HR concern noted among participating organizations.  From determining what motivates the newest Generation Z, to appreciating the strong work ethic of Baby Boomers, it can be difficult to develop a one-size-fits-all work environment. Each generation has so much to teach the others. Multiple generations working together can create a stronger, more efficient farm. Organizations are paying attention to the fact that multigenerational workforces are a reality and making them work to increase chances of success.
  5. Benefit Initiatives and Employee Wellness – Employee benefits and wellness was the fifth most common HR concern noted among respondents. In fact, better benefits are the number one method employers use to compete for talent in the U.S. (73%), much higher than the number two method, compensation (42%).  On average, organizations said they gave new hires nine days of vacation and seven days of sick time.  For those offering PTO in lieu of sick/vacation time, new hires received nearly 10 days on average.  The availability of a good balance of benefits, including wellness, is critical to attracting and retaining employees.

Discover more HR, recruiting and retention trends by downloading the full copy of the new 2017-2018 U.S. Agribusiness HR Review.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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