Having hardworking, trustworthy people working on your agricultural operation is crucial to your success. Your reliance on the team you build makes hiring good employees important but finding those people may be more difficult than ever. Start here for advice on finding and hiring the farm employees you need.
Have a Plan
Your ag operation is a business — you should (and likely do) have a variety of plans in place to keep everything running smoothly, like yearly operational plans, long-term plans, emergency plans, machinery maintenance plans, a succession plan, etc. Because people are so central to your business, you should also have a thorough employment management plan that has been prepared with input from a consulting team that includes your tax advisor, accountant, legal advisor and insurance agent.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
Think through what you need in an employee for your farm or ranch as you create a job description and be clear about your expectations from the very beginning. If you are using a general job description or one you’ve used in the past, take the time to update it based on things you’ve learned since its last use and/or your specific needs. Be sure to include any special skills you require on the farm (like a commercial driver’s license), as well as the physical capabilities and availability you are looking for.
Determine a pay range that is fair based on the market and your capabilities. Use local resources and other employers in your area to determine what is appropriate and communicate that to applicants either in the job description or during the interview process.
When you conduct the interview, reiterate your expectations again. Starting with a mutual understanding of what the job entails can only benefit both you and your employee. You may also consider a hands-on aspect to the interview to ensure their skill level and your expectations are a match.
Recruit in the Right Places
Knowing where to share the job description that you so painstakingly created can be difficult. The key is to consider who you are looking for and determine how you might reach them best. Here are some good places to start:
- Local high schools — Students may be looking for evening/weekend jobs and graduating seniors who aren’t interested in higher education may slide seamlessly into your employee roster.
- Area colleges, especially land grant universities — If you’re not looking for a long-term employee, any college with an agriculture program likely has students who are searching for hands-on experience.
- Local 4-H and FFA groups — Not only will you have an audience of potential young employees who are interested in agriculture, they may also have friends and family members who are looking for work in the field.
- State workforce development — Your state office is a resource to connect with potential employees.
- Online platforms — Places like Indeed and LinkedIn offer the ability to reach out to job-seekers, and even sites like Facebook and Twitter can help spread the word that you are looking for someone to hire.
- Word of mouth — Spread the word to others in your community and ask for references from current and/or former employees.
- Community bulletin boards — It may seem old-school, but your community is the greatest asset that you can tap into to find farm or ranch employees; you never know who has a friend or family member looking for work.
Be Willing to Teach
With fewer people coming from farming families (and those that do often staying with their own family business), some of your best potential employees may not have a background in agriculture but could learn. If you have the time and ability, consider hiring someone who ticks off all your non-skill-based boxes (such as a good attitude and high level of motivation) but may need more guidance to learn the ropes.
Once you have that new employee in place, make sure your ag operation is protected, including things like crop insurance and worker’s comp. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent today to talk about your coverage.