By Aaron Berger
Unemployment across the United States is at historically low numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nebraska ranks in the top 25% of states in having one of the lowest unemployment rates. This low unemployment rate has created an environment where there is tremendous competition for agricultural workers. Potential employees have greater employment opportunities and therefore can be more selective about the job that they choose.
Dr. Bob Milligan, Professor Emeritus from Cornell University, says that for farmers and ranchers who are looking to hire and retain employees, being able to clearly identify the characteristics that make them a preferred employer is important. Why would a family member or outside person want to be part of your business? What sets you apart from other employment opportunities? What could be done to create a work environment that would make it one that people want to be a part of?
Fair and competitive compensation for work that is done is certainly important in attracting and keeping employees in agricultural operations, but it is only a part of what motivates people. A clear vision, mission and core values that are consistently lived out in the business are foundational to having an organization people want to be a part of. For both family members and employees these things help to create an environment where people know that the work they do has significance and is done with integrity.
Dr. Milligan states that many of today’s employees are looking for an opportunity that is beyond a job, where they put in time and get a pay check. They want to be part of something that engages them and also is something they have a passion for. They would like to be able to contribute to or build something great and have the opportunity to develop mastery of a skill or ability. This is the type of work environment that provides motivation for people and commitment.
For many agricultural operation owners and managers, providing leadership for the people part of the business can be very challenging. Farmers and ranchers often have grown their production and business management skills, but have had limited training related to leading and working with people. Fortunately, leadership skills can be learned and developed.
If you or someone you know would benefit from growing in employee leadership skills, plan now to attend one of the Leading Farm and Ranch Employee Workshops that will be held at O’Neill, Valentine and North Platte, December 17-19. Dr. Bob Milligan will provide training and share resources that can help agricultural employers identify where they can improve employee leadership and enhance their management abilities.
Source : unl.edu