Retaining Generation Y Workers in Agribusiness and Farming

Retaining Generation Y in agribusiness and farming industries doesn’t have to be a headache. A little bit of strategic planning, culture awareness and training, goes a long way to holding on to your younger employees.

The dilemma of retaining Gen Y employees is one echoed across all businesses and all industries. Research conducted by Robert Half Technologies showed that 49% of surveyed executives found that their Gen Y staff were the hardest employees in their business to retain.

Further analysis showed that one in four workers aged 20-24 will change jobs in any given year and that 2/3 of Gen Y’s will change workplaces every two years.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Research conducted by McCrindle found that Gen Y want workplace culture, work-life balance and training.

Gen Ys want to feel like they work in a community not a workplace and that they are amongst friends not just colleagues. The same study found that 90% of Generation Y’s who received regular training from their employer were more motivated to stay with the company.

If businesses employ strategies to appeal to our younger workers, they are more likely to retain their staff. And there are ways that farming and agribusinesses can appeal to the younger workforce and show them that there is more to the industry than meets the eye.

Peracto and Ausveg are two agribusinesses that have employed strategies specifically to help their companies retain younger workers.

Agricultural research company Peracto introduced a year-long training program that helps settle their graduates in to work life and shows them what a supportive work place can offer.

“We have structured training over the first 12 months where the people in the program come together as a group four times during that year in different locations around Australia and New Zealand,” explains Managing Director Ian Macleod. “They’ll get together for a week each time and they’ll have some structured training. That may be technical training, business skills, presentation skills, insect identification, report writing or statistics. We have a whole range of modules.“

Macleod is conscious of creating a holistic work environment that has a great culture, great career opportunities and that staff feel inspired to do their best work.

“We want to provide opportunities for people to have fun in the work place, a good culture, make sure all the people fit together and suit that culture, we provide opportunities to learn in different areas,” says Macleod.

The effort they put into the business culture has not gone unrecognised with Peracto recognised as an employer of choice in Tasmania. That means the business was recognized as an employer that offers a good company culture and the opportunity to learn in different ways, including ongoing training.

Ausveg, the national body that represents our national vegetable and potato farmers, empowers their younger recruits with rewards and business opportunities.

“We give people a high level of responsibility at a young age,” explains CEO Richard Mulcahy.

“Generally younger recruits are more willing to learn, don’t have set ideas, are energised, are mobile and, if they are bright enough, are capable of carrying out amazing jobs,”

For Mulcahy it’s about changing the perception of farming and agriculture as boring.

“You have to create a sense of excitement. Most people will not get excited at getting out of bed to cut lettuce in the heat at 6.00 am. But when you tell them about new technologies, GPS features in the John Deere tractors, the robots that we are developing, then you’ll remove the ‘boring’ tag from farming and people might take it seriously as a career.”

For more information on retaining Generation Y employees in the workplace check out our latest report: The 2015 Agribusiness Salary and Trend Report.