holiday giving in the workplaceFruit cake, gift card, bonus, product, or something else…agh! What do I give? Holiday giving in the workplace can be as tough as figuring out what to get your Great Aunt June! If you are thinking about giving holiday gifts to your staff this season consider these few things.



Before you put the effort in to finding the perfect gift, double check your company handbook (or ask your superior if necessary) to make sure holiday gift giving is allowed. Then develop a consistent approach for selecting who and how much you’ll invest. Remember gifts can come in many forms, not just money. I’ll share a few ideas below!


Consistency doesn’t mean you have to give equally across all employees, but you do need logical reasoning to justify your decisions. For example, if you are providing a Christmas bonus, perhaps you base the value on % of salary or weighted based on revenue generated.


Being consistent across employees is obviously the easiest, but doesn’t always make sense. And, it could depend on what you are gifting. Just remember, you don’t want holiday gift giving to become a demotivator for the team because there is unexplainable inconsistency amongst what various team members receive.

Published on December 15th, 2016

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becoming a referenceYou’ve been asked to be a reference for a previous intern. Uh-oh! Now what?


Whether you are acting as a reference for a former employee, intern/student or friend, knowing exactly what to say and how to say it can come with some pressure. For many you are asked to be a reference for, you just want to do them justice and help them succeed. And then, you have those that maybe wouldn’t naturally get your best recommendation which adds even another level of complication.


Whichever the case, here are seven tips to becoming a reference maverick!


7 Tips to Becoming a Reference Maverick


1. Let’s take a step WAY back! If you know you may get asked to be a reference, particularly relevant for interns/students or employees, be sure to provide candid feedback on performance and skills throughout your time interacting with them. Help them learn where they need professional development and focus effort and time in helping them achieve that while you have the opportunity to influence. Helping to build the person up only makes your job as a reference that much easier.


2. Make notes. It can be hard to recall which employee or which intern did what from year to year. Keep a file folder or better yet, an electronic file (I have an email folder too) where you can house examples of work/notes that can easily be referenced and sorted to quickly refresh or access during a reference check.

Published on May 4th, 2016

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Ag & Food HR Roundtable 2016Ahhh! The Ag & Food HR Roundtable…for those that know me, you know that this is a BIG deal. I’ve had the privilege to be a part of the planning of the Roundtable since nearly the beginning. I’ve missed only one, the first one. This year will be hosting the 14th annual conference. Register today, so you don’t miss out!


The Ag & Food HR Roundtable brings together human resources professionals, business leaders, university/college career services staff and association representatives from across North America within the agricultural industry to discuss, learn and influence change around recruitment and retention within the industry. It truly is a one-of-a-kind event.


The thing that I’m most excited about for this year’s Roundtable is pretty simple! I’m excited for our participants to enjoy it! I’m fascinated with the planning aspects of this event, particularly the crafting of the agenda through the help of the Roundtable Organizing Committee. It is always fun to see the thoughts and discussion mold itself into a dynamic and unique conference unlike any other. This year is no exception! The committee has developed a great educational agenda and a dynamic line-up of speakers is expected. I’m looking forward to the event kick-off, Tuesday, August 2nd in Des Moines, Iowa on our host’s, DuPont Ag & Nutrition, campus. Thank you to DuPont and our other sponsors for what is sure to be an exceptional conference.

Published on April 27th, 2016

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Top-brand-publishers-on-social-mediaCoca-Cola, Disney, and Starbucks all have the same thing going for them: They’re easily recognized brands. When a consumer sees one of those logos, certain expectations are associated with it, right?


As consumers we are inundated with brands on a daily, hourly, every minute basis. But, branding isn’t just necessary for marketing products, it is imperative for recruiting talented employees as well. Over the past 10+ years we’ve seen employer branding become crucial in this competitive job seeker market. More and more employers are focusing on it, but why?


Dr. John Sullivan ( provides a concise list of excellent reasons for employers to focus on their employer brand:


Advantages of Becoming an Employer of Choice

  • Ease in attracting quality talent
  • Retention rates for current employees
  • Maintaining the corporate culture is relatively easy
  • Customers and strategic partners are also attracted by your favorable image
  • Employee motivation can be easy to maintain because of a shared pride/vision
  • A positive image often results in a higher returns

Published on August 19th, 2015

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2015 LogoIf you are still wondering why you should attend the 2015 Ag & Food HR Roundtable, here are 10 great reasons to attend.
1. This is the events 13th year and offers the most unique and rewarding peer networking experience available in the agriculture and food industries. Click here to see the companies that participated last year.
2. A cost effective way to accomplish college recruiting initiatives in one location by networking between industry and key college/university professionals. See who is already registered for this year’s Roundtable.
3. An excellent opportunity to gain industry knowledge outside of your specific industry sector – not all human resource professionals have an agriculture background, so this event is helpful to gain insight into the industry as a whole.
4. Relevant content around topics suggested by past participants and requested specifically by a committee of industry HR leaders and university representatives. Click here to see this year’s Organizing Committee.

Published on June 25th, 2015

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Two agribusiness professionals connect at the 2014 Ag & Food HR Roundtable in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Two agribusiness professionals connect at the 2014 Ag & Food HR Roundtable in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There are varying levels of appreciation for professional development — some are ecstatic about the opportunity to learn while others sigh with dread. The truth is that those who dislike the thought of professional development may only be looking at the opportunity at face value. Of course the key of professional development is to learn. However, there are many other facets to be gained by participating in professional development that often go unrecognized.

Here are eight underlying benefits gained beyond building knowledge:

Published on June 9th, 2015

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Memorial Day has come and gone for another year, yet remembering and honoring those who have served in our country’s armed forces should not be a single day event.  Traditionally, this U.S. holiday has been a day to remember those who have died while serving the country, however it also provides the perfect reminder to honor service members and veterans still here.


One way we can do this is to help military men and women transfer back into their civilian life after deployments and/or service.  As agricultural employers we have a great solution to assist — job opportunities!


Our preconceived notions often stereotype service member experience into things such as mechanical or other skilled trade expertise.  While many do have these critical areas of expertise, this talent pipeline brings so much more to the table.  Did you know, the military has over 7,000 job positions across more than 100+ functional areas and 81% of these jobs have a direct civilian equivalent?1


There are also many transferrable skills gained by serving in the military that service members often struggle to articulate.  Here are just a few skills that we as agricultural employers want within our organizations that many veterans possess thanks to their service1:

Published on May 26th, 2015

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