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Hiring during ‘The Great Resignation’

Bob Milligan for Progressive Cattle Published on 28 March 2022

A job report at the beginning of 2022 estimated about 200,000 people found jobs – about half what we expected. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell. This result means fewer people are now working or looking for work. This unusual circumstance is being called “The Great Resignation.”

In this article, we seek to better understand what is happening in The Great Resignation, we focus on two key priorities in this time, and then offer some recruitment ideas.

The current labor environment

The labor market has been tightening and thus more challenging to employers for the last decade or more. The baby boomers are retiring, and there are fewer young people entering the workforce because the young adults have been bearing fewer children and are waiting until they are older and have become established in their careers. The reality is: The period early in the pandemic when businesses were closed was the exception. We have now returned to that trend, accentuated by the factors discussed below.

The pandemic has led to great personal and societal changes. The stress of the pandemic caused many individuals and families to examine their priorities. Many found, through this examination plus being at home due to being unemployed or working from home, that their current or previous employment no longer was satisfactory. Some have left the workforce or moved to part-time work to have more family time exacerbated by the possibility of their children learning virtually. For many, their expectation has changed from a career/life balance to a career/life integration.

Two events happening at the same time as the pandemic have heightened the job expectations of many, especially those in low-paying jobs. The first is the $15 minimum wage movement; the second is the increased awareness of racial injustice created by the George Floyd murder.

Until recently, agriculture has been less impacted than most sectors because we had little loss of or change in employment, as our work cannot be done virtually. Now and going forward, these trends may have even greater impacts for us. The work flexibility that is a key component of career/life integration is a huge challenge for us. A great dose of creativity will be required. Similarly, fewer workers will likely accept the days per week and hours per day expectations common in agriculture. Finally, we must work to overcome the poor image of agricultural firms as employers.

Two key hiring priorities

You want your business to be a business employees will choose. Those businesses are often called preferred employers or employers of choice. A farm or other business becomes a preferred employer in two ways. First, the farm or business must be a great place to work – one with engaged employees who will be ambassadors for your business. Second, the farm or other business must communicate that excellence to potential employees through networking in the community and with potential labor pools and through professional recruitment and selection processes.

The second priority is closely related to being a preferred employer. Increasingly successful recruitment uses the owners’, employees’ and farms’ network. Many positions are filled with candidates who have already had contact with the farm or other business either by being at the farm, such as during a visit or an internship, or by connecting with the owners or other employees at events external to the farm. I believe that in many situations today, the network will be the primary or maybe only source of candidates.

You need to identify external opportunities to connect with potential candidates. You can fulfill this responsibility by attending events future employees attend or are a participant in. Examples could include school activities, FFA functions, job fairs, etc. Further, when you do have an open position, you must use every possible networking opportunity – brainstorm everyone you know who might have a connection to a good candidate.

Professional recruitment required

The goal of recruiting is to reach and persuade qualified candidates to apply for open position. Recruiting includes promoting the positive attributes of the farm and the available position and providing information about what will enable a potential candidate to succeed in the position.

Positive attributes are often sadly lacking in most recruitment materials I read. Recently, I was teaching a seminar for managers. They had a very difficult time moving past their concerns about offering competitive compensation. Compensation is important, but not nearly as important as most think. Did you become a farmer for the money? Take the time to brainstorm positives.

Your recruitment plan to reach great candidates and entice them to apply for your position can include informal word-of-mouth communications, want ads, job announcements, internet job announcements and formal job services.

Great recruitment – marketing – materials can be developed using the following seven steps:

  1. Lead with a positive statement or job characteristic that attracts attention.
  2. Give the job title.
  3. Say something positive about the business.
  4. Describe the job.
  5. Explain qualifications necessary for success in the position including the competencies.
  6. Provide information on wages and benefits, as appropriate.
  7. Say how to apply for the job.

The resulting recruitment materials can go on the internet – (Craigslist, internet job postings,etc.), in newspapers and in flyers that can be handed out and posted.

Recruitment is marketing. Today, the greatest recruitment tool you have is the job satisfaction of your workforce. You also must “get out there” by making recruitment a continuous process and using and expanding your network.  end mark 

PHOTO: Getty Images.

Bob Milligan
  • Bob Milligan

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