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7 secrets to onboarding new farm employees

Tough Decisions: There are multiple benefits to having a thorough onboarding plan in place when hiring.

May 28, 2024

2 Min Read
Farmer in field with employee
HIRING PLAN: Having a consistent onboarding plan for new farm employees sets new workers up for success. Curt Arens

by Shannon Sand and Anastasia Meyer

Navigating the farm employee hiring process in today's landscape can be challenging, making it crucial to set both new employees and the employer up for success from day one.

It often takes weeks, if not months, for new hires to hit their stride within an organization. A comprehensive onboarding plan can significantly mitigate this productivity gap by equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed early.

Onboarding doesn't have to be complex. By following these seven key steps, farm employers can ensure a smooth transition for new team members:

1. Extend a warm welcome. Begin by extending a warm welcome to the new hire, expressing genuine enthusiasm for their joining the team. Take the time to clarify details such as their preferred name and provide guidance on who to approach for assistance. Additionally, familiarize them with practicalities such as workspace arrangements, dress code and meal locations.

2. Offer an operation overview. Provide newcomers with a comprehensive understanding of the operation, including its layout, personnel, vision, mission, history and goals. This foundational knowledge sets the stage for alignment with organizational objectives and fosters a sense of belonging.

Related:Gifting as part of farm transition planning

3. Explain employment policies. Use this opportunity to outline key employment policies, covering areas such as work hours, start times, seasonal variations, sick leave, vacation entitlements and feedback mechanisms. Establishing clear expectations early promotes accountability and transparency.

4. Clarify job duties. Review the new hire's job description in detail, outlining specific responsibilities, procedures and tools essential for success in their role. Discuss potential career paths within the organization to underscore opportunities for growth and development.

5. Prioritize safety. Emphasize the importance of safety on the farming operation, fostering a culture that prioritizes employee well-being. Instead of focusing solely on rules, demonstrate a genuine concern for individual health and safety. By fostering a supportive environment, farm employers can empower employees to prioritize their own welfare while contributing to a safer workplace overall.

6. Incorporate mentorship. New hires may possess the requisite skills for their roles. However, providing mentorship accelerates their integration and maximizes their potential within the organization. Mentors serve as valuable resources, offering guidance, answering questions and facilitating social integration, thereby enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Be consistent. Designate a consistent individual to conduct orientations and establish a standardized procedure. Documenting this process with a checklist ensures that all essential components are addressed systematically. Including key farm and ranch personnel in the orientation process fosters a sense of ownership and investment among existing staff. Additionally, prepare any necessary documentation in advance to streamline the onboarding experience for new hires.

By presenting a positive and professional image of the operation from day one, farm employers set the stage for a successful transition into the new role, fostering enthusiasm and motivation in the employee from the outset.

Sand and Meyer are Nebraska Extension agricultural economists.

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