Webinar: Surviving The Personnel Storm

People are your most important asset. And your ability to hire and retain them is your competitive advantage in the future. That was the topic of CropLife Media Group’s State Of The Industry Webinar titled “Surviving The Storm: Recruitment and Retention Strategies for Businesses of Every Size.”

Ag 1 Source recruiting consultants Mark Waschek and Mark Esfeld discussed the current state of the agriculture workforce, as well as ways ag retailers can weatherproof their business during the one hour presentation, which was sponsored by Simplot, SST Software and Winfield Solutions.

According to Waschek, several current employment trends paint the picture of a troubling landscape when it comes to finding qualified employees in agriculture in the future, including:

  • Changes In Overall Employment: In 5 years, overall U.S. employment is expected to increase by about 12 million.
  • The Education Component: Demand is up for college educated workers and is outpacing supply at a rate of 300,000 per year. Also, by 2018 the college system will produce 3 million fewer college graduates.
  • USDA/Purdue Prediction: Every year we are currently 3,822 graduates short of filling all open sales and business-related ag openings.
  • Bye Bye Boomers: 50% of the agriculture employee base will reach retirement age in the next 10 years.

So what is an ag retailer to do? Weatherproof your organization, says Waschek, by focusing on these five areas:

  1. Reduce turnover.
  2. Streamline the hiring process.
  3. Hire based on performance vs. skills (i.e., favor performance).
  4. Be flexible in hiring practices.
  5. And most importantly, become a destination employer.

Also critical, according to Esfeld, is to spend some time studying your best performers and what makes them tick. This generally involves identifying the traits that make your high performers the best; identifying the core personality types of top performers; determining your own definition of success; and weighing job experience versus behavioral traits.

So, how does one achieve the vaunted “destination employer” status? According to Esfeld, open communication, or the transfer of knowledge from management to employees, is key. He also presented these six steps to becoming a destination employer:

  1. Reduce turnover – low turnover is more attractive to ideal candidates.
  2. Build a brand – utilize colleges, trade schools and the community to find well-qualified candidates and build brand reputation.
  3. Internships – offer challenging internships with the hope of bringing interns on as full-time employees.
  4. Recruiting services – if you use recruiting services, be sure they screen candidates against both the job description and company culture.
  5. Company culture – create a culture where everyone is brining talent to fuel the organization.
  6. Leader focused – it is of upmost importance to have a leader who embraces constant internal recruiting.

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