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.
It is common knowledge that mergers and acquisitions breed uncertainty, although that uncertainty can be short term or longer term, depending on the situation. It is also inevitable that you will lose good people in times of change, no matter how well you communicate through it. However, change can translate into opportunity from every angle, if you choose to approach it that way. I have seen several companies place a hold on advertising openings as things unfolded, but where they lacked presence in that space, they made up for it in promoting more broad spectrum activities and brand identification from an overall company standpoint. There was an interesting comment made from an audience member in the panel session……she referenced that inbound interest in working for her company had not been deterred by their recent merger status. I’m sure everyone doesn’t experience that, however, it makes me wonder if it’s becoming so commonplace in job seeker’s minds, that they don’t view it as a much of a concern as they consider a move? Each merger or acquisition is unique, and each situation has a different set of circumstances and timeline.
There is another “current event” that impacts recruitment, and that’s the new administration. Legislation shifts when a new Administration enters office, and there are numerous hot topics currently in the cross hairs. Mackenzie Wilfong presented our “Thinking Legal When It Comes to University Recruiting” session at the Ag & Food HR Roundtable. She touched on many cases that were moving through our legal system, and it was eye opening to gain a better understanding of the process. While many of the issues require waiting to see what shakes out (insert FLSA overtime rule, Affirmative Action Laws, etc.), other issues are making their way across the country. For example, she commented that many companies have removed the check box for felony convictions from their job applications, in order to be on the safe side of current legal movements.
So what’s the theme here with current events? Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball. Whether you are tied up in merger/acquisition activity, or trying to stay ahead of legislation (maybe both!), when it comes to recruitment, it’s a hurry up and wait situation. Being both patient and nimble is the name of the game, and those that can work through change without sacrificing performance and a positive outlook will land on their feet regardless.
Keep an eye out for a new agricultural career-focused e-book coming from AgCareers.com soon with job market forecasts. Also, download our current Agribusiness Job Report Outlook for key findings in industry job trends.