Help Wanted: Getting the right employee for your farm
By Grant Griffith, director of primary producers, MNP
You are ready to hire more staff for your farm, but before you do, it’s imperative that you figure out what you need them to do.
Successful operators have found ways to balance the physical demands of farm life with strategic decision making. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of physical labour, and don’t have enough time for crop management or marketing, it might be time to hire someone to manage those areas for you. Or if you would like more experience, you may want to hire someone as a mentor. Either way, you must determine exactly what you need help with before you hire someone.
When determining what they need, most people start by doing a cost analysis of the new employee’s wages. But before you consider these costs, you must develop a thorough job description. If you don’t, it’s like walking into a farm implement dealership and asking how much you should spend on a new tractor, without explaining what you plan to do with it. A smart agricultural dealer will show you the tractor with the highest profit margin, telling you all the reasons why buying that particular tractor will save you time and money. But is it what you need? Being undecided about what you need is not the best way to make large financial decisions—not when buying a tractor, and not when hiring an employee.
Create a Job Description
To determine your employee’s role in your farm operation, start by deciding what you will keep doing and what an employee will do for you. Write it down. A clear job description will help you make all other decisions about the role of your new employee.
An analysis of all aspects of the employee’s role in your operation will help you communicate what you need done, by whom, when, where and what you will give them in return for their work. Writing out this analysis in a job description will give you a powerful communication tool to inform potential employees about the job, help you to properly train employees and hold them accountable for job performance.
Carrying out a detailed analysis and preparing a job description will save you time and money. It will save you from interviewing someone with the wrong skills, or hiring a person who can’t do what you need them to do or can do much more than you require, but demands more money than you can afford. It will also help you estimate what you can afford to pay an employee and stop you from making the decision to hire before you are ready. If you do not have the time to do an analysis and job description, you don’t have the time to hire and manage an employee.
Creating a successful job description: Ask yourself the right questions.
- Will I need someone full-time? Year round? Seasonal?
- What tasks should I be giving up? What tasks take the most time and add the least value?
- What are the key tasks I need done, and what tasks will my employee be focused on?
- How much time will these duties take per day, week, month or year?
- What type of education and experience will a person need to work effectively and safely? What level of literacy and mathematical skill are needed?
- What kind of decisions about safety, money, materials/supplies and time management will the person make? Will this involve specific calculations or communication skills? What type of equipment will they operate? Do employees need to bring their own tools?
- Will they have to perform specific physical tasks, such as lift certain amounts of weight?
- What temperatures, weather and other working conditions will the person need to handle?
- Will they speak for me with customers or suppliers? Will they make decisions on my behalf?
- What hours do I expect an employee to work? Do I expect them to work the same hours as I do?
- How much time should I expect to spend training someone? How much time will they be expected to work alone?
- How will I measure if a person is performing the job well or poorly?
- How much will I have to pay to be fair, and to attract and keep someone in the job?
- Do I need an employee? Or is it possible for me to hire a company to do certain work for less cost?
For more business principles and practices, please contact Grant Griffith at 1-800-446-0890 or [email protected]