There’s plenty of talk in the media about how employers have to engage with Generation Y – those 18-34 year olds who love to multi-task on their tablets, smartphones and laptops.
But it’s more than media hype – Gen Y will be a majority in the workforce by 2020, when they will make up 42% of the workforce, up from 34% today.
If agribusiness fails to get them on board, their future will be anything but bright.
So what do you need to do, if, like many of the agribusinesses in Australia, your workforce is ageing and in many cases increasingly out of touch with the digital generation?
Here are three key strategies you can’t afford to ignore:
- Attracting Gen Y: Ban boring
The average age of an Australian farmer is 53 years (according to the ABS) old with 47% of the industry aged 55 or older. It’s not exactly a draw-card for younger, digitally-focused workers.
Combine it with the distinct lack of investment in tertiary education (only 12% of agricultural workers have a degree versus 28% of the population), wages that have substantial lagged behind average salary growth, and you’ll have Gen Ys turning away in droves.
But agribusinesses know their sector can be as dynamic as any – it’s just a case of getting the message out.
According to Ausveg – the national body that represents our national potato and vegetable farmers – companies must actively work to bust the boring and out of touch label.
“You have to create a sense of excitement,” explains CEO Richard Mulcahy.
“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.”
- Attracting Gen Y: embrace enthusiasm
Agricultural research company Peracto http://www.peracto.com.au/ knows the value of having Generation Y on staff.
“They bring energy, they bring fresh ideas in the way they think, they bring enthusiasm,” explains Managing Director Ian Macleod. “And they ask a lot of questions and challenge us in what we’re doing.”
For Peracto, its not just about getting young people working for them, it’s about educating people that agriculture can be a dynamic and fulfilling career option.
“It’s very important for the whole of the industry that we get young people coming into the industry, and they need to get opportunities to experience it, whether it be work experience or holiday work, so we actively provide that,” says Macleod. “We’ve been active with interacting with universities and the schools, and trying to get people interested first in agriculture as a career and secondly working with us.”
- Attracting Gen Y: champion training
Implementing workplace structures with mentoring, coaching and training, and harvesting a great workplace culture are simple frameworks that businesses can put in place to appeal to Gen Y and get them in your workplace.
A social research white paper by social research firm, McCrindle, found that 79% of Gen Ys say additional training is ‘very important’ and that regular training would motivate 90% to stay with an employee longer.
The same report noted that 38% of Gen Ys said ‘opportunity for advancement’ was one of their three top ‘must-haves’ in a job.