Becoming ‘employment ready’

People Management

Carlyn Sherriff (email) and Dee Heinjus (email)

The New Year sees many farm businesses starting to look for new employees to boost their team for the year ahead. But as many farm employers and managers are aware, finding an employee for their business is a tricky task at the moment.

Rather than focus on that issue alone, we thought we would chat about positioning your business to be ‘employment ready’.

Here are five things you can proactively work on in your business to be ‘employment ready’:

1.    Foster your ideal culture

Culture is defined as the demonstrable values that are lived by the business owner. Culture is directly influenced by the leaders of an organisation. It can be enhanced or eroded at any time. Cultural alignment between owner and employees is essential for a strong business, as alignment of values and culture leads to improved performance.

You may have a robust business strategy but without the right culture, the strategy will fail.

Recruit for the right attitude that reflects your culture. You can train and develop the skills required if your team has the right attitude.

One foundational framework is to ensure you ‘work above the line’. This is operating with ownership, accountability and responsibility. The opposite is blaming, making excuses and being in denial (below the line). ‘Working above the line’ is a choice you make as a leader, it will create trust and enhance your team function.

2.    Communication

Communication is an essential trait of successful teams. On-farm this looks like:

  • Developing ‘game plans’ for key operations such as seeding, shearing or harvest.
  • Undertaking weekly toolbox meetings to ensure the team is clear on the tasks for the week.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities that provide an outline of expectations and tasks.
  • Use of messaging apps to keep in touch during the day (eg whatsapp or messenger).
  • Effective delegation ensures clarity on task expectations, facilitates skill development and frees up time. Effective delegation includes – defining what success looks like, what happens when something goes wrong, ensuring the team is skilled to undertake the task, a clear deadline, and check-ins along the way.
  • Dealing proactively with any team issues as they arise.

3.    Professional operation  

Set yourself up for success by operating as a professional business. This includes:

  • Thorough recruitment process including reference checks.
  • Clarity in your employment expectations (job descriptions).
  • Systems and procedures that support your workplace culture (lead by example).
  • A culture of accountability including feedback and support for teething issues.
  • Induct and train all staff members to foster their individual skill set. Provide ongoing training opportunities.
  • Regularly undertake performance reviews that provide two way feedback.
  • Preserve confidentiality at all times.

4.    Take a long-term focus

Map out the next five years of your business. What changes will occur within the team and/or business. Share your business vision for the future. Your team will appreciate seeing the goals on the horizon and want to be part of the journey.

Chat with your current team and develop pathways for long-term career progression within your business.  Career development opportunities can be created if employees want to grow their skills. Asking the question is the start of the process.

Discuss family succession planning to ensure non-family employees understand their place in your business.

5.    Retention

Hold on tight to your current team!

Work with your current team to ensure they are satisfied and happy. Losing a team member will be costly – both in time and money.

The key to retention is communication. Have an open conversation about where your employee is at and go from there.

Want to know more

Check out our online HR workshop – Creating Employers of Choice. Click here to view the flyer or register.