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How to keep your best employees during a downturn

Tips for keeping top workers happy.

Is your farm struggling to make ends meet? Experiencing poor market conditions, less than stellar crops, or any of the host of factors that may negatively impact agriculture? 

If your farm is looking for ways to go leaner, elimination of positions or layoffs may be under consideration. However, most organizations have a few vital employees that they don’t want to risk losing, even in a downturn. How do you keep these employees happy and encourage them to “ride out the storm?”

Communicate your plan to overcome adversity 

Are your employees confident in the farm’s leadership? Strong, confident leadership can make amazing turnarounds happen. Employees’ relationship with their supervisor/boss can be a make or break component in retention. surveyed ag candidates across the country and found that candidates thinking about changing jobs or actively looking were very unsatisfied with their supervisor/boss. Make sure supervisors and high-performing employees buy-in to your plan.

Reduce instability and stress

If the farm’s culture is one of constant worry and stress, employees are likely to explore other employment options.’s survey also found that although company instability may motivate employees to leave, career growth, higher compensation, better benefits and more flexibility are even stronger motivators to stay. 

Flexible working hours can be a particularly viable alternative during difficult financial times. Salaried, hourly, and seasonal workers were most likely to be motivated by career growth and advancement opportunities. Discuss opportunities for future career growth or advancement on the farm, continued education, or professional development with these employees. 

Rather than focusing on negatives and doom and gloom, create a culture that reflects positivity and encouragement

Reiterate your dedication to operating in an ethical manner, highlight past achievements, and realign goals to meet the new market conditions.  Work to develop passion in your employees; if they are truly passionate about the organization and what it stands for, they are more willing to stay. 

Learn more ways to keep negativity from impacting your employees and farm; attend the Keeping Negativity Out of the Workplace webinar on October 20. 

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

TAGS: Management
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