If you employ skilled labor and skilled trade professionals, you don’t need anyone to tell you there’s a shortage of candidates. You’ve likely been swapping experienced employees back and forth with your competitors routinely. It’s a miracle to be able to find and net new talent with the experience needed. My colleague Jessica Bartow and I recently gathered human resource professionals from agricultural employers in Tulare, California and surrounding areas to discuss the skilled trade shortage, and we identified five strategies they use to try and keep the candidates flowing.
The tactics below can serve as a quick checklist. If you are finding it challenging to attract people to your skilled positions, it’s time to ensure you’re developing programs like the ones below.
1. Employee Referral Bonuses
2. Training Initiatives tied to Managers’ pay and intentional development paths for current employees to reduce turnover – develop a mentoring/buddy program
Agribusiness professionals gathered in Tulare, California on January 15, 2019 to join a discussion in their top talent acquisition challenges. Not surprisingly, the topic of regulatory hours jumped to the top as a high interest among the group. Multiple HR professionals shared that this issue has been a challenge for them. Together, they shared ideas on three main subgroups within this topic:
1. Overtime Payment
2. Making it about the whole company
3. Being proactive for change
Employers shared that some had lost previous employees due to overtime payment, or rather the lack thereof. Employees had grown to expect being paid overtime, and when they did not end up working the extra hours to receive payment they left to go elsewhere. One company stated that they have paid their overtime early to stay ahead of the curve and guarantee the pay for their employees. It was a shared feeling that most employees might not be aware of the entire package they receive from their work, including overtime pay and standard wages. A recommendation that stood out was to educate employees by using a chart to show the entire breakdown of the net pay and benefits each employee receives.
Benjamin Franklin said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” I know this to be true because my grandmother supported this by instilling in me that education is the one thing someone can never take from you. An HR Certification, will challenge you to learn more about the HR field and reinforce many principles you may already know. Once you’ve completed the certification it will signal to employers and colleagues that you are well versed in HR competencies. Think of it as a good housekeeping seal of approval on your resume!
As a first step to determining if a HR Certification is for you, it is worthwhile to identify where you are in your career path and where you would like to go. With that in mind, identify which certification makes the most sense for you to pursue. It is a good idea to meet with your manager, cover career goals, and your interest in a certification. Your manager may offer support as you purse an HR Certification and there also might be a chance that your company will support your efforts financially as well.
It’s no secret to those close to me that The Office is my favorite television show. My husband and I have probably Netflix’ed the entire series at least 10 times. I’m constantly quoting lines and relating my life experiences to something that happened on the show. Though I have learned much about HR since joining AgCareers.com nearly five years ago, I must say that I also often see parallels between my industry colleagues’ work and the humorous and often outrageous scenarios played out on the hit NBC sitcom. Here are lessons The Office has taught me about HR and management that I think are relevant and valuable to anyone working in this field.
1. How NOT to Behave in the Office or Workplace.
This probably goes without saying, even if you haven’t seen The Office. Between spending weeks planning pranks to pull, creating playlists for your office crush, constant parties, and pointless meetings, not a lot of work is actually done on this show. Are your employees really working behind their computers? But more than that, unethical and inappropriate happenings that would make any HR professional spill their chili are the norm in Scranton, PA.
2. Show Your Staff They are Appreciated.
Aside from his unacceptable comments to and about women in the workplace (which would certainly never fly on a sitcom today) and his treatment of Toby, Michael Scott has to be commended for his treatment of his staff. He holds an award ceremony for them, he participates in great initiatives like “Take Your Kids to Work” Day, he sponsors a (albeit ridiculous) charity 5K for his employees to run in, he gives the entire staff the Friday off before Jim and Pam’s wedding, and don’t get me started about all the goodbyes he gives his staff in “Goodbye Michael.” I could go on. Take cues from the golden Michael Scott moments, after he gets all his fake firing and “that’s what she said’s” out of the way: he goes the distance for his staff.
We are gearing up for the industry’s premier North American event for HR and educational professionals which will be held August 7-9, 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Hosted by AgCareers.com and Oklahoma State Universities College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Ag & Food HR Roundtable will provide relevant content examining recruitment and retention specifically within the ag and food industry. The opportunity for HR and educational professionals to network at the same conference is unique and rewarding!
In preparation for this year’s event we asked repeat attendees to share their thoughts on the Ag & Food HR Roundtable. Paula Beecher is the Director of the Bookhart Student Services Center for the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University and Kevin O’Conner serves as the Recruiting Coordinator for AgReliant Genetics. Both have attended the event in the past and will also be on site in Tulsa.
What was your favorite part of last year’s Roundtable?
Paula: My favorite part of the Roundtable last year was hearing from the speaker who co-wrote the book Marching off the Map (Andrew McPeak). I loved this session and have used this book and his ideas throughout the year!
Even if you have a wanderlust personality traveling for work can be draining. Flying in a suit, toting a laptop and cramming for an upcoming meeting isn’t near as fun as road trips with friends or the redeye to Las Vegas. However, for a lot of us work travel is part of the gig. While I can’t guarantee you a hotel room away from the elevator or on time flights, I can offer a few tips to make your next business travel experience more bearable.
As a high school freshman attending my first FFA meeting, I remember glancing toward a classmate I knew lived in town and likely knew nothing about agriculture. I thought, I wonder what she’s doing here. Is she chasing a farm boy? She was a successful and popular student that excelled in all sports; what interest did she have in agriculture? To my surprise, that classmate of mine ended up teaming up with me on soil judging and multiple speaking contests as well as studying both plant science and agribusiness in agricultural education courses alongside me. While she became quite active in the FFA chapter and agricultural classes in high school, her future endeavors eventually led her away from any prospect of an agricultural career.
As I sat down to write this blog meant to discuss AgCareers.com’s new Careers in Agriculture E-Book, I couldn’t help but think about my initial judgment of her, thinking she couldn’t possibly have any interest in agriculture or agricultural careers. It’s how I looked at most of my classmates and peers in high school as well as college that weren’t from a farming background, especially at the small liberal arts college I went on to attend (perhaps someone could have labeled me similarly to how I labeled my classmate, after all). But what was stopping me from discussing with them the opportunity of pursuing agricultural careers?
If I asked people in the agricultural industry to name two current events that are impacting recruitment these days, I would likely hear mergers and acquisitions right off the bat. It seems there are merger talks or acquisitions being announced every few weeks, and while that may be an exaggeration, there is no doubt our industry is currently experiencing quite a bit of consolidation. Our Organizing Committee of industry professionals for this year’s Ag & Food HR Roundtable Conference felt mergers and acquisitions were an important topic for the event, so we created a panel to dive into “Communicating through Mergers and Acquisitions” (Angie Scott, Lori Herrstrom, and Holly Bergman provided their insights). Great advice was shared on both sides of the merger/acquisition situation. That discussion focused on open and honest communications, as well as building resiliency through change.
Impressed. Surprised. Encouraged. Reflecting on last week’s event, these are the three words that quickly come to mind. The 2017 Ag & Food HR Roundtable was the first for me to attend and it did not disappoint!
Throughout my professional career I have been a part of organizing and executing several large-scale events and am aware of the in-depth planning that is required to successfully host an event with as many participants and speakers as the Roundtable has. The Roundtable went off without a hitch which is a testament to the competency of the organizing committee and AgCareers.com staff. Meals were substantial and caffeine was readily available! Attendees were welcomed with a gift bag full of goodies including the conference proceedings booklet that contained not only the schedule but also valuable conference information and speaker biographies.
Amy Gazaway, Career Development Coordinator for Oklahoma State University – College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, has been to so many AgCareers.com Roundtable events that she says she’s lost count. Which is why she wants to let university professionals know what they also stand to gain and how they can develop their careers at the annual Ag & Food HR Roundtable presented by AgCareers.com.
Why have you continued to attend the Roundtable? What is valuable about it for university professionals, specifically?
The AgCareers.com HR Roundtable provides the best opportunity for university professionals to develop relationships with and learn from industry representatives about how to best prepare students for and connect students to industry talent needs. There is no other opportunity that brings together the number of industry organizations specifically in agriculture and food for this purpose.