Can Farms Compete for Talent?

Managing Talent

Showcase the perks and benefits of working at your farm business

Published on: September 20, 2013

It's that time of year when ag schools are starting to hold their job fairs. The soon-to-be graduates are on the hunt for placement and the companies in Ag are preparing for the battle for talent.

I spoke to an ag student today who expected to graduate in May, 2014, along with his friend who already has an offer on the table. And this is not an uncommon story.

The larger ag companies have a lot to offer candidates, such as name brand, great benefits, various job opportunities and perks. Farms need top talent just as much as the agribusinesses; so how do we compete?

RELATED: See our September 2013 issue of Farm Futures cover story on best ways to build your dream farm team

First, we need to recognize how much we do have to offer on the farm.  In smaller companies there is less bureaucracy and often closer relationships with leadership. It's typical that employees have interaction with the owners on a daily basis. There is usually more breadth and variety in their job responsibilities allowing employees to develop more skills and spread their wings.

In larger organizations, roles are typically very defined and employees are most likely unable to branch out into other areas unless they transfer into a different role. Farms offer a culture and atmosphere that is tough to beat.

MORE ON HIRING: Effective Interviewing, Part One: Why This Matters

The next time you are interviewing a great candidate, make sure you showcase what your farm has to offer.  For every farm operation I have partnered with this year, an all-star employee will have plenty of opportunity to move up and expand their role.

On-farm opportunities can attract great performers, we just need to polish up on how we present ourselves. The larger firms have an entire marketing and HR team dedicated to showcasing their company.  I am pretty sure most candidates do not speak with the Owner or CEO directly. On the farm, what better way to attract talent than to have the owner discuss in person the employee's value, experience and growth potential?

A common question I get from farm operations is whether or not to offer health insurance. If it can fit in the budget, I do recommend offering at least two benefits to employees: health insurance and paid-time off.  I do not think you have to compete to have the best benefit package, but it should be competitive and appealing.