Farm worker recruitment: 5 tips to find new hires
Finding workers for farm-related jobs can be challenging, given the labour market shortages, which is why, once you find the right people for the job, it’s important to keep them.
When you have the right people working in the right positions, farms can expand and grow.
Janice Goldsborough, a human resources consultant with the consulting company The HR Basics in Manitoba, recommends producers take their time with the hiring process. Avoid the urge to hire the first person who comes along and instead, find the right people.
“Turnover can be very costly, so taking more time to get the right people on the first try helps farms be more profitable,” Goldsborough says. “When you have the right people working in the right positions, farms become productive and can expand and grow."
Jade Reeve, manager of AgriJobs with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council says the recruitment process begins with developing clear, realistic job descriptions.
“Quality job descriptions help employers identify the key tasks, duties and responsibilities of a particular job and communicate that information effectively to potential applicants,” Reeve says. “A detailed and organized job description makes it easier to attract qualified workers and compare their skills and experience to the job requirements.”
Be clear about what skills and abilities are needed in the job right now and what long-term soft skills are required.
You can tailor your job posting, describe your farm or business in a favourable light and be truthful about what your culture is like.
Have questions ready before the interview and ask each candidate the same questions. This ensures an informed decision at the end when comparing answers for the same questions. Also, ensure interview questions comply with the Canadian Human Rights Act, which protects workers against discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity and other grounds.
Whenever possible, verify references. They can help determine if someone is suitable for the specific farm and job.
Experts also recommend signing a contract with new staff. Chris Hall, human resources partner, YMCAs of Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo, says contracts should include:
Whether the position is full-time, part-time or contract
Annual salary or hourly rate
Vacation day entitlements
Length of probationary period
In the contract with new employees, create key performance indicators and consider a checklist to ensure clear duties and responsibilities and that work is performed consistently.
Once the perfect candidate is hired, it's critical to ensure job expectations are clear. Dana Gidge, a human resources consultant at RLB Chartered Professional Accountants, Guelph, Ont. says clarifying expectations with new hires comes by providing new employees with the farm’s written vision, mission and strategy statements so they can determine how they fit in to the new job.
As the job progresses, short but regular check-in conversations go a long way to clarify expectations and ensure work is tracking in the right direction.
Conducting a thorough audit of your human resources plan can help you focus on what’s needed to attract and keep top talent.