HR Outlook Shows Improvement

Revitalization of the pork industry bodes well for employees and employers, but now is the time to make sure you can retain top performers.

By Cindy Walter

The improvement and growth of the agriculture economy means more jobs are becoming available within the industry. "The outlook for hiring employees in the pork industry is excellent for 2011," says Eric Spell, president of AgCareers. com. "This year, we?ve seen a significant increase in job listings in the pork industry on AgCareers.com".

AgCareers.com is the leading online job board, website and human resource services provider for the agriculture, food, natural resources and biotechnology industries. When comparing North American first-quarter figures from 2010 and 2011, the number of pork industry job listings on AgCareers.com almost tripled in 2011, from 55 to 150.

Industry revitalized

The revitalization of the pork industry is apparent through job listings and is good news for producers, but there also is need for concern. As the job market expands with opportunities, many companies fear that top performers will seek employment elsewhere. These employees could potentially seek new jobs with other competitors within the pork sector or outside in the robust agriculture industry.

Like business owners in other market segments, owners of pork operations took drastic measure s by cutting costs to ensure profitability in the face of challenging economic conditions. The effect of those strategies could be detrimental if companies neglect to make adjustments to retain their top talent. When head count is reduced, remaining employees become increasingly vital to a company's core operations. These employees become more valuable through cross-training, decision making, and multitasking across a larger scope. From an employee perspective, this is a great opportunity to increase your skill set and further develop your expertise. However, these new-found skills can also lead employees to seek advanced opportunities outside the organization.

Look Inward

In an effort to retain core employees, company leaders are advised to closely evaluate the impact of changes made within their organization in the last year. One specific area of concern for many employees and companies alike is compensation. Fair compensation practices and benchmarking may have been forgotten during the recent economic ups and downs.

"Compensation benchmarking is important because salary is a key factor in employee engagement," explains Spell. Precedence in making salary adjustments as budget becomes available should be a priority, especially for employees who have had an increase in job responsibilities due to workforce reduction. But, how do companies know what fair compensation is today in the pork industry? How much of a salary adjustment should be made?

Salary surveys can help

Investing in a salary survey is the best way to gain insight into current market trends. The salary survey will provide information on compensation components (salary and benefits) and also can be used to benchmark pay rates against the industry, ensuring competitive pay.

"Companies take part in compensation surveys because the benefits far exceed the costs," notes Spell. One of AgCareers. com's feature products is the Compensation Benchmark Review (CBR), a confidential agribusiness salary survey. The CBR helps participating companies learn how their employee salaries compare to others within the same sector and across agribusiness. This online tool generates reports on salary and benefits data for specific positions in the ag industry, including swine production and animal health.

There are numerous benefits to implementing a compensation strategy within an organization. Benchmarking compensation packages for a role such as sow farm manager can help companies determine where they need to make improvements and focus efforts based on a customized strategy that supports business goals. Identifying the roles of importance within business operations and being able to benchmark how salaries and benefits compare to competitors, within and outside of the pork industry, allows for a competitive advantage.

"The CBR helps companies construct competitive benefit plans to put them ahead in the marketplace," summarizes Spell.

Employees are a valuable component of successful operations. Keeping a positive relationship and atmosphere will help employees remain engaged and satisfied with their positions