The flexibility an organization and position provides is often directly related to a positive workplace atmosphere and employee satisfaction. My professional career has included work for several different organizations, while I also had experiences with internships and high school/college jobs. I’ve experienced stark contrasts, from a strictly scheduled business to a very flexible workplace.
At one job the door locked at 8 am, so you’d better get there early, and a buzzer signaled the beginning and end of each break time (no this wasn’t a factory, it was an office). One where you were required to use all your PTO for maternity leave, with no way to accrue more until the next year. Or another where you had to use vacation time when there was a death in the family as they hadn’t developed a bereavement policy.
On the other end of the spectrum, one employer encouraging you to volunteer with community organizations during work time. Another where you could come in ahead of the start time in order to leave early to attend a personal event. One offering the flexibility to work in a professional capacity part-time to balance the needs of a young, growing family. Without hesitation, I can tell you I’ve been the happiest when and where I had the most flexible workplace. You may wonder if this is just a personal story, but there is research to back up the power of workplace flexibility.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I have a unique job where I get to do a lot of different things daily. Primarily, I do graphic design for AgCareers.com, so this includes handouts and flyers, brochures, mailers, e-blasts, reports, infographics, social media graphics, basically anything the team needs that involves anything graphical. I also handle a share of social media tasks like creating content and posting the jobs that you see on our social media. And I get to do some video production and a variety of writing on the blogs, the newsletter, through the Career Guide, and creating surveys.
What do you enjoy about working here?
I love my job. I appreciate that my job is not just one sector of agriculture, but is all-encompassing of the industry. I feel so fortunate to come to work every day and get to do what I love for the industry that I love. I also love creating. And I feel genuine doing so. I grew up on a farm, and my husband and I farm, so coming from this industry and getting to support it through my daily work is and has always been my dream. All my passions fit into one job, which I think is pretty rare to find in a career.
The agricultural industry continues to grow through diverse opportunities. There are more job opportunities in agriculture than there are graduates to fill them. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with two-year degrees, technical diplomas, and certifications to fill these roles. “Two-year/technical graduates are very valuable to our organization,” shared Tara Tench, Assistant HR Manager, Southern States Cooperative, Inc. “The talent we are looking for are not always found in four-year graduates; many two-year schools offer the types of agricultural degrees that we are looking for along with the skill sets needed for many of our positions.”
Welders, electricians, mechanics, and truck drivers are a few typical roles that we often think as skilled trade opportunities. However, candidates with associates’ degrees or technical certifications from two-year schools are often a good fit for roles such as research assistant, sales, technician, executive assistant, operations and customer service to name just a few. In addition to drivers and mechanics, Southern States Cooperative has also filled positions in their retail stores with community college graduates, in roles that sell crop products, precision ag services, and products for livestock, like feed and animal health supplies.
Hopefully, your interns are getting into the swing of things, learning and exploring the industry. But how are they doing? We’ve all hear that this generation desires constant feedback. Interns continue to tell us they want to hear from employers regularly, sharing positive feedback and constructive criticism. “Let me know how I’m doing!”
We know from our internship research that almost 75% of agricultural companies formally review their interns. Likewise, interns say one of the ways to improve an internship program is by giving performance reviews!
Unemployed candidates are sometimes stereotyped as less desirable than those currently working- but is this always the case? Certainly not! Is your screening process eliminating applicants that are unemployed? If so, you could be missing a candidate that might be qualified or could be a great fit for your organization.
First, you need to look at why they are unemployed. Did they take time off to raise a family or relocate with a spouse? Were they part of a corporate restructuring or a major lay-off? Sometimes even the best employees are caught in situations that are beyond their control.
Are there advantages in hiring an unemployed worker?
No need to give a two-week notice–one of the major benefits is their ability to start immediately.
AgCareers.com surveyed candidates in the Candidate Motivation & Behavior in the Ag Industry survey, including questions for unemployed respondents about their job search behaviors.
Your interns will be starting soon and you’re likely making final preparations for them. So what should you avoid? AgCareers.com has worked with and surveyed students interning in the agricultural industry for years. We’ve developed a list of what interns hate and can quickly create a negative experience for both the intern and your organization.
1. Isolation: Students don’t want to be stuck in one office or location for the entire summer. Let them travel and see everything your company has to offer. Interns frequently tell us that visits to other locations or facilities are one of their favorite experiences. “Make sure interns see every side of the company instead of just the area that they are working in,” shared one intern. They also dislike isolation from coworkers and other interns. “More interaction with peers as well as team members,” noted an intern when asked for improvements. Create opportunities for interns to network with upper management and fellow interns. If your company doesn’t have many interns, make an effort to introduce them to interns at other organizations in your area.
Collegiate recruiting is likely an important part of your process to attract prospective applicants; in fact, U.S. agribusinesses report it is second only to employee referrals, and it is in the top five in Canada. But do you really have the resources to make it to all the campuses you want to target? Competition for top talent is fierce (nearly half of agribusinesses plan to increase graduate recruitment in the coming years). Employers also need to account for career progression and succession planning when determining their collegiate recruitment plans.
AgCareers.com can help you expand your on-campus brand across North America without all of the travel expenses and personnel time.
You’ve probably not heard this directly from candidates, but some say YOU STINK (at communicating with them)! Communication failures are one of the most frequently cited frustrations candidates share about employers.
Start clear communication with your very first introduction to the job seeker: your job posting.
Creating the right language for your job postings will save your organization time because you won’t need to sort through lists of unqualified candidates. It will also save job seekers’ time that may be wasted applying if they don’t meet your criteria.
AgCareers.com presented the webinar, Women in the Agricultural Workplace on Friday, December 11. We were joined by panelists Molly Ball, National FFA Foundation President, and Stephanie Liska, Beck Ag, Inc. CEO. The discussion was propelled with data from AgCareers.com’s new study on Gender Roles & Equality in Agribusiness.
Agriculture has stereotypically been viewed as a male-dominated industry, but we’ve seen tremendous growth in women’s interest in ag, women pursuing career in the industry and enrollment in agricultural collegiate programs.
Eighty-percent of both men and women responding to our survey felt that the attitude toward women in agribusiness had changed for the better in the past decade. However the vast majority of women felt there was gender inequality in agribusiness, while less than half of men agreed. But it was encouraging that both felt there was less gender inequality in agribusiness than in the overall professional world.
Last Friday AgCareers.com presented a webinar for employers, Why do Smart People Make Unethical Decisions? Ethics expert Chuck Gallagher discussed human dynamics when it comes to ethical decisions, the phases of “The Unethical Continuum” and establishing a road map to keep employees’ behavior between the ethical lines.
Gallagher said that our intentions create our behavior, but the culture of an organization should create a system to help keep people between ethical lines. He shared The Ethical Continuum: