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Recruitment and retention of employees

of employees

April 23, 2008  By Gary Mawhiney

By following a few simple techniques farmers can greatly reduce the stress associated with hiring and retaining employees.

By following a few simple techniques farmers can greatly reduce the stress associated with hiring and retaining employees.

Human resource management requires a plan that follows a series of logical steps that will result in the right person for the job that is being offered.

The farmer first has to identify the type of job that he has available with accompanying details. Hours work, wages and benefits are the three main areas that most farmers look at first. Other items such as profit sharing, opportunity for advancement and working conditions can also play a large role when recruiting someone to work on your farm.

Money is not the primary motivating factor when someone is looking for work. Job satisfaction, in terms of responsibility and recognition, rate high with prospective employees. Workers are looking for more opportunities and farmers have to compete with large companies to hire the brightest and the best. There was a time when an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work was enough however it doesn’t hold true in today’s labour market.

Your recruitment plan must include how you intend to advertise your job vacancy. One of the best ways is to advertise in local newspapers and farm publications. Another method is to list your job opportunity with your local employment centre. Job boards on the Internet are quickly becoming a primary source for people when they are looking for work. The least desirable method would be by word of mouth. When describing the job that you are advertising, be clear and concise in the qualifications that you are looking for. Make sure that your advertisement does not violate any human rights laws or is discriminatory in any manner.

The actual interview is a critical step in the process of hiring. You should structure your questions to seek out the knowledge of the candidate as it relates to the job being offered. You must also be careful not to ask any questions that may violate the Human Rights Code. The Government of Ontario Web site at has information that will guide you in this area. Last but not least, always check references.

After you have found the right person for the job, the next step in the process is developing an employee handbook.

This book should contain pertinent information about the job as well as your expectations of your newest staff member. The Ontario Agricultural Human Resources Council has published a book that allows you to develop a handbook for employees geared to your individual operation. It is also available on CD and you are able to print off the appropriate chapters. You may order this CD or book through the OMAF web site.

Another very helpful publication is entitled “Managing People on Your Farm.” The Canadian Farm Business Management Council (CFBMC) publishes this book and it is a very excellent reference guide. There are case studies and situations that all employers encounter and are a very helpful guide to labour relations on the farm. This book can be ordered from the CFBMC web site at

One quickly learns that when hiring employees there are no guarantees. Despite doing everything correctly during the hiring process, sometimes people just don’t work out. This should not discourage you as managing employees is a highly skilled ability. Following these simple steps will allow you to reduce your overall stress level and will go a long way in assuring both a happy employer and employee.

Gary Mawhiney is the Human Resources Program Lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

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