As Director of AgCareers.com and CareersInFood.com, Kathryn Doan works on leading and developing companies’ business offerings and connecting people to career opportunities across the whole ag value chain.

Ms. Doan recently provided advice about how to connect and deliver what employees are looking for in a career, and how to attract employees to your organization by offering industry insights and various attraction and retention ideas.

“Even as the pandemic continues on, recruitment and employee retention still need to be a focus. Agriculture is an essential industry and can’t succeed without the people that make it run,” said Ms. Doan, “Many things have changed in the light of the evolving workplace due to the ever-changing world that we are living in.”

Employee recruitment and retention should be a focus of any organization. Over 43,000 job postings were made on AgCareers.com in 2020 in the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic had a large effect on unemployment rates, rising over 60% in 2020 alone.

This raises many concerns for HR departments:

  • having to compete for talent
  • providing fair and competitive compensation systems
  • recruiting and retaining qualified employees
  • ensuring adequate training and development
  • maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, and
  • providing employee wellness and benefit initiatives.

In the current client, a common positive theme when recruiting for agriculture careers is the feeling that candidates are contributing to something bigger than themselves by helping feed the world. The agriculture industry is changing rapidly, and the available careers are also changing with it.

“What we as employers in agriculture have the opportunity to do is provide someone with a job that contributes to something that has really meaningful purpose,” said Ms. Doan, “But how does this evolution impact the food value chain? No matter where you’re located or what part of the industry you are from, you have a place and can contribute to the message, as it relates to working in agriculture. It means you and I need to evolve and innovate and adapt when it comes to the careers and the messaging around them to adapt to the evolution of the industry.”

The needs of employees today are extremely diverse, with pay not being the most motivating factor to many of today’s workers. Achievement, value, financial stability, growth and learning, safety and security, responsibility and expectations, freedom, flexibility, and connection all play a large role in employee satisfaction and overall performance.

Ideas to attract and recruit employees include job awareness and promotion initiatives, skills assessments, employee needs evaluations, and recruitment analysis. Ensuring that your organization offers competitive pay and benefits, flexibility, recognition opportunities, a respectful hiring process, and a positive work experience where employees understand how they contribute will go a long way in attracting high quality talent.

Once employees have been introduced to the organization, retention practices can be applied to provide job satisfaction and reduce employee turnover. Providing a safe environment is top of mind for many people in the current business environment and being able to provide opportunities for connection rather than just work will allow your organization to invest in its employees to create lasting careers

Retention efforts can include intentional communication, training and promotion, compensation and benefits evaluations, and strengthening organizational culture. Company culture can be improved by offering employees opportunities to use skills and abilities, creating a positive environment between co-workers, providing job-specific training, ensuring employees are recognized and appreciated, and offering growth and advancement opportunities to develop strong leaders.

Most importantly it is crucial to remain transparent and create trust with employees, facilitating dialogue and communication is one of the strongest ways to attract, recruit, train, and retain quality employees.

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