Training within the Industry

by Katelyn Sawyer

As the industry continues to adapt to changing HR trends and challenges, retention remains a top priority for employers across the agriculture and food industries.

One of the biggest keys to retaining employees is the continual development of staff members through training within the industry.

The Importance of Training

According to the 2022 Candidate and Employee Benefits survey by AgCareers.com, a valuable component of any job for employees is having the opportunity to grow in their position through learning and development opportunities.

Employees do their top work when it relates to what they are interested in and challenges them to do their best. Additionally, their best work is done when they have the right tools and skills for the job.

That’s where training comes in.

Taking advantage of learning through training and educational opportunities allows employees to take the reins on their career paths, investing in their career development and preparing them for what lies ahead. Having the opportunity to learn new skills challenges employees to grow.

Investing in training also shows the value that a company places on its employees. Employees may have access to training and development programs through their company that they may not have otherwise known about or have been able to afford or create time for.

Training not only gives these employees an advantage within the industry, but it also allows them to feel more overall job satisfaction.

Training Methods

There are a wide variety of staff development and training methods utilized within the industry that benefits both employees and employers. While there are many different staff development and training methods out there, the most important factor when determining which training methods will be the most beneficial to your operation is considering what your employees are asking for.

As reported directly by candidates and employees in the 2022 AgCareers.com Benefits survey, a valuable component of any job for employees is having the opportunity to grow in their position through learning and development opportunities. Offering several options for growth and development can help to give employees a clear picture of their career path and how they can best support the organization while allowing them to utilize their newly developed skills.

Agriculture and food employers reported their most popular staff development and training method from the 2022 AgCareers.com HR Review was offering employees an Orientation/Induction.

most popular training methods
Photo Credit: Indy Studio - stock.adobe.com

Orientation is the two-way process of the new hire and the employer getting to know each other. Induction is introducing your organization to the new hire.

Having an orientation for new employees can help establish operation or company norms, reviews policies and procedures, and address safety protocols. If an orientation or induction is not already a part of your company’s protocol for new hires, consider setting up standard procedures for this vital step to your operation’s success.

Even if your operation already has an orientation program in place, think about evaluating your current program, and gaining insight from current employees and those that recently went through it to see what areas of the program you could improve upon. Putting new hires and regularly including existing employees as well helps establish a baseline of knowledge in the case of a teammate’s absence and builds a supportive workplace.

Beyond orientation, onboarding is a more comprehensive process that can last up to a year. Onboarding gets employees comfortable in your organization and ensures that they have the resources and information needed to excel in their roles.

Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) and Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) are two popular education and certificate programs within the pork industry.

pig vet using tablet
Photo Credit: Indy Studio - stock.adobe.com

These certification programs are designed to display the commitment of pig farmers and their employees to continually improving the pork industry. These programs are regularly revised and updated to reflect findings from new research, keeping them relevant, effective, and valid as they are instrumental in continually improving the industry as a whole.

The PAQ and TQA are important training methods to utilize in your operation as they demonstrate your commitment to food safety standards, animal well-being, and employee safety. Strongly consider adding these training methods to your operation if they are not currently a part of your training program.

The Value of Upskilling

When discussing training, it’s also imperative to mention the value upskilling can bring to your business.

While a candidate or an employee’s current skill sets may not exactly match the job description of the role you are trying to fill, consider investing the time and resources to capitalize on the transferable skills that your employees already possess.

Many technical skills, product knowledge, or industry-specific tasks can be taught on the job. Win the training game from the start by hiring candidates with valuable soft skills, giving them the time and investment they deserve by providing upskilling opportunities.

Existing employees are also prime candidates for upskilling, as you may already have an idea of employees who possesses a willingness to learn and is open to change thanks to the previous experience you have with them.

Upskilling has the potential to improve your recruitment initiatives and raise your company’s overall retention rates while lowering the skill gap in your operation. Lowering the skill gap in turn helps make role transitions easier for both employees and employers.

The Benefits of Your Company Culture

Training within the industry plays a vital role in not only keeping employees on staff and assisting in their career success but also aids in establishing the culture of your business.

AgCareers.com surveyed candidates and employees asking them which components of career development and company culture are the most important.

diagram showing components of company culture

The top-ranking components that employees and candidates reported they are looking for are challenging and meaningful work, professional development, and learning opportunities.

All three of these components tie into your company’s overall training plan for employees.

On the employer side of company culture, the most utilized tactic for improving their company culture was providing an opportunity for employees to use their skills and abilities (33 percent).

Training allows employees can feel empowered and confident in their roles as they can use those skills on the job that they’ve worked so hard to develop, creating and more positive work environment.

Having a positive company culture sets you apart from competitors within the industry and establishes your operation as a desirable one to work for.

Unsure where the climate of your company culture currently stands? Consider surveying your employees to find out what they think, potentially bringing in an outside source to prompt more earnest reviews and insights for your operation to grow from.

Katelyn Sawyer

While she wasn’t born into the agriculture industry, Katelyn Sawyer got here as soon as she could. Graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in Animal Science in 2019, she spent most of her undergraduate career at the university’s Swine Educational Unit farrowing barn where she found a passion for pigs. Prior to arriving at AgCareers.com in the fall of 2022, Sawyer taught middle school agriculture and worked for the North Carolina Pork Council. As a member of the Talent Solutions Team at AgCareers, she currently specializes in helping clients understand compensation and salary trends through the Compensation Benchmark Review and writes about trending HR topics specific to the agriculture and food industries.