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Why HR audits need to be a part of your farm business plan

3 min read

Human resources experts say an evolving HR plan on the farm is effective.

Jade Reeve of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council advocates for regular HR assessments. For many producers, the winter months are ideal as it gives them time to be prepared for spring seeding.

Getting started

“We have an HR toolkit that has a lot of tools and templates, and beyond that, a lot of HR theory to help explain all of the areas that are relevant to an employer or HR manager,” Reeve says. “If you’ve got a plan, you can revise it using those tools and conduct an audit yourself.”

She encourages communicating with employees while conducting assessments and ensuring they have a chance to review changes to policy and the employee handbook. The toolkit can provide help navigating any difficult conversations, not just between employer and employee but among family workers as well.

An HR audit can help farmers focus on the areas of their human resource management in most need of attention.

CAHRC offers additional HR management training solutions through e-learning, workshops and webinars.

A self-assessment tool also exists, helping to identify strengths, where support or training may be needed, and access to information and tools that provide employers with training and developing employees.

HR management tools, like an HR audit, can help farmers focus on the areas of their human resource management in most need of attention. The audit can also work towards the overall HR plan.

Keeping the crew

One area of attention may be to address worker shortages. Reeve recommends employers demonstrate why somebody would want to work for them. That means the employer must sell themselves to prospective employees, highlighting the job and working experience.

“Photos work wonders to show happy smiling people, animals, the quality of life on the farm, that really speaks to job seekers,” Reeve says.

Farmers may also wish to communicate potential rewards and recognition to job seekers.

Such a component in their HR plans might include:

  • Structured compensation strategy

  • Performance bonus program

  • Health and safety program

  • Recognition program that encourages and rewards high-performance workers

Find the gaps

Michelle Painchaud, president and CEO of Painchaud Performance Group says the results of an HR audit become the basis of an HR plan that will position the farm’s labour force and leadership.

Painchaud’s top questions include:

  • Does the farm business have a clearly defined and well-communicated vision, mission, core values, goals and objectives? Is there an up-to-date organizational chart and current employee manual detailing policies and procedures?

  • Regarding recruiting, are there defined competencies and job descriptions for every position and job-specific, behaviour-based interview questions?

  • Is there a welcome package for new employees and scheduled new employee check-in meetings?

  • Do the farm performance management goals include having an explicit workforce planning strategy linked to the organization’s vision and strategy? Are expectations and performance measurements clearly defined? Is there a quarterly or annual formal feedback program to help employees become high performers? 

  • To develop employees, does the farm have a new and existing employee training program that can help build competencies to achieve the farm’s goals? Is management and leadership training in place to help steer employees and the organization toward its vision and goals?

  • To aid staff retention, does the farm business use surveys to measure levels of employee satisfaction and engagement and have ways to measure leadership effectiveness within the organization?

Article by: Helen Lammers-Helps and Kieran Brett

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