19 November 2020


Speaking at a Farming Connect webinar on staff recruitment and retention, people consultant Paul Harris advised farmers not to adopt the mentality that training staff will make those employees sought after by other employers.

“People often ask me what will happen if they invest in people and they leave but my question to them is what would happen if they didn’t invest in people and those people stay,’’ said Mr Harris, of Real Success.

Although some farmers struggle to recruit others have waiting lists, said Mr Harris, and there are key differences that separate the two.

“Put people at the centre of your business, if you do that you will not have issues recruiting and retaining staff,’’ he insisted.

Mr Harris urged farmers to consider the following:

Reputation: Mr Harris suggested that farmers were often guilty of talking down their industry and their own businesses but that negativity discourages people from make farming their career of choice.

“Consider what you are saying about your farm to others and what others are saying about you,’’ he recommended.

“What is your reputation, are you known as a farm that hires and fires staff or one that retains and develops its people?’’

Online presence: Potential employees will research recruiters online so use social media platforms to post positive messages about your farm. 

He understood why some farmers were concerned that this might put them in the firing line of animal rights activists but added: “How can we attract staff if we are not brave enough to have a website with positive images of our farms, our teams and our animals?’’

Advertising: In an advert make it clear what is needed, such as qualifications and experience. 

Consider personality profiling job candidates, and existing staff too.

“At the interview stage, people can be who they think you want them to be so profiling helps to more accurately match people to your farm,’’ said Mr Harris. 

“If we recruit poorly, we retain poorly, that’s where staff retention often goes wrong.’’

What staff can bring to your business: Farmers will often value skills and knowledge above attitude and alignment – a willingness to work with others and to get a job done - but Mr Harris challenged this approach.

“You can develop skills and knowledge but you can’t teach attitude and alignment, it might be that you need to move on people with the wrong attitude and alignment,’’ he said.

Stand out from the crowd: Be different to other potential employers – provide good working conditions and housing or offer more time off.

“Salary isn’t always the most important consideration for job candidates, think about working hours and time off too,’’ said Mr Harris.

Training and development: Don’t be fearful that staff will leave if you invest in their training and development – these are in fact keys to retention.

And, if staff do decide to move on, their experience can only enhance your reputation as an employer, Mr Harris pointed out.

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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