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Agricultural jobs – how to recruit and retain top quality talent

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Agriculture is a long-term business, often dealing with longer-term returns on investment such as annual crops or livestock. It’s also often a vocational calling, and due to both of these factors, it’s likely that whoever you recruit will be in it for the long run, looking to learn as much as possible from you about the job and the agricultural industry as a whole. 

While many in the industry know this all too well, a study in the Farmers Weekly conclusively found out that new recruits into agriculture are looking for a long-term career, and want to assume high levels of variety and responsibility within their job. For full information about the report and findings see https://www.fwi.co.uk/careers/survey-explodes-myths-careers-agriculture

Therefore, it is essential that when looking to recruit and retain employees, you start off with the best. As such, our experts at Agricultural Recruitment Specialists have created a guide on what you can do to ensure your farming or agricultural business attracts the top new recruits, and how to retain them once you have trained them up.

1. Create a clear and open job advertisement

Whenever recruiting for agricultural jobs, you must always be clear about what you are offering. Whether the position is for agricultural sales, animal feed jobs or general farmworker jobs, candidates must be clear about their role and responsibilities before anything is signed, to ensure that employer and employee are on the same page. 

Equally, it is vitally important not to oversell the role. Firstly, you are likely to scare off the candidates who will actually be suitable for the job as they may be intimidated by the responsibilities and pressures you are suggesting the job involves. Secondly, if an individual does accept the job, only to find that it comes will fewer challenges than you stated, they will immediately become disappointed and disillusioned with the role, and will be unlikely to stay. By being open and honest about the roles, responsibilities and challenges the job entails, and you will ensure the right candidates apply.

2. Stay engaged with your employees 

In the agricultural business, the supply of specialist jobs is often lower than the demand. Therefore, it is important to remember that it isn’t just your company who wants your employees - there is always competition, even if an employee has been with you for a number of years. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that once you have hired an excellent individual they will stay with you regardless. Instead, have ongoing discussions with your staff regarding the role they are in, their overall career goals, and remuneration, including incentives and salaries. By ensuring your employees are happy, you are far more likely to keep their interest and dissuade them from looking to a competitor for a better salary or promotion.

3. Always keep communication open

This is vital for both recruiting new employees and retaining existing staff members. As well as continually offering positive feedback, praise and constructive criticism, it is important to let your current and prospective employees know that the communication channels are two-way. If they ever want to come to you with a question or comment, let them know that your door is always open. This is especially important for people looking to start out in the agricultural world, as they want to be reassured that they will have the support they need when stepping into this industry.

Communication should also include the company itself. Obviously, this doesn’t mean telling all of your staff exactly how much money the company is turning over, but offering broad overviews of the direction of the company, as well as asking for your staff's opinions of strategy changes, is a great way to foster trust and loyalty. 

4. Listen and adapt where necessary

It is crucial that, as an employer of people in the agricultural industry, you listen to what employees have to say. Following on from the importance of communication, listening and then subsequently adapting things where necessary is the hallmark of a good boss and a great business. If you create an environment where employees feel free to speak out about problems, you know that you have earned their trust. It is also likely to help your business, especially if problems are raised about your strategies and procedures. A happier employee is a more productive one, and this will have beneficial impacts on your day to day efficiency. 

Listening to concerns from new recruits is vital when recruiting. Only by assuaging their concerns and offering solutions will a new person feel comfortable enough to join your agricultural business. However, once you have initially earned this trust, it takes a lot to break it. 

5. Get involved!

Having underlying experience of a specific job within your business makes it far easier to recruit for it, as you can describe the role's responsibilities and challenges with far greater knowledge. This gives potential recruits a more rounded picture of the role they are applying for. It also helps you, as you know from first-hand experience the skills and qualities that are needed for the job. 

Occasionally helping out with the tasks of your established employees is good for their morale too. Not only does it show that you are willing to come down to their level and ‘muck in’, it also allows you to gain a better understanding of the micro processes that allow your business to function on a day to day basis. 

At Agricultural Recruitment Specialists, we pride ourselves on being a UK and international specialist for agricultural recruitment. If you are still struggling with the recruitment process, we can use our skills and experience to help find you the best clients for the job. We tailor our services to your specific needs, offering every client a bespoke recruitment solution. For more information about us and the services we provide, please contact us at: https://www.agrirs.co.uk/contact-us