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There’s a technique to hiring, keeping good farm labor

hiring farm employees keeping good labor
• All too often, farmers dread hiring farm labor.

Employees enable farm operators to do much more than they ever could on their own.

The can also add skills and perspectives farm owners don’t possess.

The bottom line is that employees make you better.

Why then do so many producers think just the opposite? Why is it that some owners think of them more as a necessary evil instead of an asset and a partner in reaching goals? The answer lies in your attitude and the actions that result from your attitude.


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Hiring employees is a great opportunity to add to your team. Consider it like draft day for a major league ball team. Everyone has high hopes for what the team can become with the new additions. But all too often, farmers dread hiring.

Part of the answer is to get a plan for hiring. Michigan State University ExtensionEducator Stan Moore’s article, “Get serious about hiring” discusses how to make that plan.

But before you execute a plan to add team members, you need to take a look deep within yourself and your operation. Is your farm a good place to work? Do you convey a positive attitude and outlook? Is the place physically attractive and clean and does the work environment convey respect for employees? Do you speak well of employees?

If the answer to any of these is “no” then you need to make some changes or you will simply hire a temporary employee who will move along to a better place soon. Always strive to be the “better place”.

The “better place” doesn’t need to be newer or nicer, but it does need to be clean and well organized. More than that, it is defined by how you, as the owner, interact with employees. You make it the better place, or a place to leave, by your attitude about employees. When you have first looked inside, you can begin to look outside.

Farming has many demands and limitations. Sometimes, farmers think they cannot compete with other industry for quality employees because of those demands. That is not necessarily true and it may be that some farmers use it as an excuse to account for their own poor performance in hiring.

Make the strength of your operation the way in which you work together as a team. There is nothing more compelling than feeling the pride of working together to accomplish important things. If that is the attitude you convey, you will find greater success in hiring and in keeping great employees. Managing well will lead to hiring well.

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