Profitability Begins with People

Overcoming challenges with retention starts with a good plan.

By Erika Brandt

Professors, authors, consultants and astute professionals lecture that the success of a business is dependent upon the people who work there - a simple and believable statement. However, achieving this success is easier said than done.

A key contributor to success is beginning with a process to bring in a new employee and make him or her feel like a part of the organization, or an “on-boarding” plan. New employees’ early experiences will significantly impact their success in their new role and drive engagement, productivity and retention. On-boarding is not only for big businesses – every organization that employs people should develop an on-boarding plan for each new employee or for current employees that may be switching roles.

“Finding the right people often proves difficult, but keeping good employees is often even more of a challenge,” says Eric Spell, President of AgCareers.com. “Retaining employees can be attributed to a number of factors, like employee engagement, satisfaction and accountability, but retention truly starts with an effective on-boarding plan.”

An effective plan goes beyond just setting goals and covering policies – a great plan starts during recruitment and follows the employee through the first year.

During Recruitment

Sell the positive qualities of your company to the candidate. While this may seem basic, remember the interviewing process is a two-way street. Let the candidate know what makes your organization an exciting place to work. Explain the talent level, management style and culture of coworkers. Be sure the candidate knows the roles and responsibilities he or she will take on if hired. Finally, share the career and financial opportunities that can be attained.

In addition, involve influencers in the recruitment process, like the spouse and other family members. If the offer requires the candidate to relocate, involving outside influencers from the beginning and making them feel a part of the process will help, both short-term and long-term.

 Factors Contributing to On-Boarding Success The new employee

After The Offer

Keep an open line of communication with the candidate, even though there might be a significant time lapse between acceptance of the offer and when the candidate actually starts. Contact the candidate regularly during this time. Before the candidate starts, be sure he/she knows where to go on the first day, what to bring and special policies to adhere to. Provide the new employee with an agenda for the first week.

If possible, limit the necessary paperwork and administrative tasks to the first day. Then, assign and discuss a project/task for the new hire to complete within the first week or two that will give the person an immediate sense of accomplishment and contribution to the organization.

“Most companies spend the first few days with a new employee reviewing company presentations, filling out paperwork, and providing reading material to review,” notes Spell. “Organizations should focus on getting new employees involved with what their job responsibilities are going to be on a routine basis. Ask new employees for input and feedback and, where possible, implement their suggestions. What better way to make them feel like they are making a difference from the start?”

Set specific objectives for the candidate to meet, and consider short-term and long-term goals. Remember, “engagement” typically drops off after six months, so as an employer, set some goals that can be monitored and measured through that period.

After the first week and then bi-monthly after that for the first year, ask for feedback from the new employee on the organization’s on-boarding process. Don’t be afraid to make changes based on those recommendations.

While there are other important factors, the key components will help you begin to develop effective on-boarding plans for your farm or organization that will drive engagement, productivity, retention and profitability.

Editor’s Note: Erika Brandt is the Marketing and Communications Manager for AgCareers.com, the leading online job board and human resource service provider for agriculture, food, natural resource, and biotechnology. For more information visit www.agcareers.com or email: agcareers@agcareers.com.