There are specific tactics and tips that ag businesses can use to retain the best employees.

“This includes how to attract them, how to measure what is going right and how to keep those employees on your team,” says Bob Broeckelman, who presented at the Agricultural Retailers Association Conference.

When he worked for the farm credit agency, he helped transform the business’ turnover rate from 28% to 3%—in five years.

His approach is to challenge your status quo.

“We typically hire people like ourselves. But we need to look at the job and what kind of person fits the job. People are hired for what they can do, and they are fired for who they are,” he explains.

His tips for ag retailers:

·         Be honest about job requirements, including seasonal expectations.

·         Don’t hire someone from more than 100 miles away. People want to return home, particularly Generation Y.

·         Promote employees who like to manage as managers. “Too often in our organizations we promote good employees to become managers, and they are not suited for the job,” he says.  

·         Reward employees for new employee referrals. According to Broeckelman, three-fourths of employees come from referrals. And current employees are the best recruitment tool.

To keep Generation Y employees, act like a good parent:

·         Be loving, encouraging and rewarding

·         Offer free food for events

·         Give them business cards

·         No birthday goes uncelebrated

·         Invite them to a management meeting

·         Their first day should be unforgettable

·         Allow time off for community service

According to USDA data, 20,000 ag jobs go unfilled each year. But Broeckelman says that isn’t due to a shortage of potential employees.  

“There’s no shortage of people. It’s tough, yes. But it’s an issue of how we find them,” he explains. “People work for people. They don’t work for businesses.”

His system using “a funnel for success” includes multiple evaluations based on job and applicant, an independent review of those assessments by someone who is not the hiring manager, and then phone interviews of validated candidates.  Questions on the assessments ask “the way they person/position wants to be” and “the way the person/position acts under pressure.” It shows how talent operates compared to the position.