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IN AN era when job-hopping is becoming more common, keeping talented employees in the fold has become a foremost business challenge for employers – and it applies as much in the sheep and wool industry as much as any other industry sector.
On average, Australian workers today stay at each of their jobs for about four and a half years and 91 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years.
Exactly what age group is a millennial? There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends, but demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and ending birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to 2000. That places them, this year, in the 18-37 year old bracket.
It was not too long ago that job-hopping was considered to be a career-limiting move in agriculture.
The first question any potential employer would ask was why such short stints, or why so many jobs in such a short period of time? Over the past few years, however, it has not only become more commonplace, job-hopping is now the new normal for millennials.
We are now reaching a stage where millennials are progressing through the ranks into management roles and still retaining their title as notoriously disloyal to employers. This means that the perception of job-hopping has changed immeasurably.
However, while this new mentality towards employee loyalty or disloyalty is great for the employees, it can have disastrous effects on a beef supply chain business – regardless of whether it is a small grazing enterprise with only one or two staff, or a feedlot employing 25. The cost of replacing an employee in agriculture can run anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times their annual salary, while at the same time productivity within the business is likely to take a hit.
With job-hopping becoming the ‘new normal’, agribusinesses need to step up in several areas in order to keep a strong, dedicated and, most importantly, loyal workforce.
Here are some steps to consider to get on the road to long-term, committed employees.
Every relationship thrives or dives based on the quality of the communication. This is no different for employees and managers in the meat and livestock industry. One report found that when managers are communicating daily with their employees, whether over the phone, digitally or face-to-face, those employees are more highly engaged. Also, employees who meet regularly with their manager are almost three times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t.
A natural offshoot of good communications is making sure expectations on both sides of the table are clear and understood. Without that understanding, situations within the business can quickly go awry. The lack of clearly-understood expectation is the source of much strife in relationships, the cause of most conflicts and the beginning of poor organisational performance.
In order to build this understanding, managers and the company itself need to be clear on what their expectations are. Knowing where the gaps are, what needs to be improved and what is already working that needs to be retained, is a good place to start.
This is not, however, the end all and be all. As mentioned earlier, having clear expectations is a two-way street. Employees will obviously have their expectations as well, which is why it is important to meet and discuss once the management is clear on their own expectations.
While it is not always the key factor, remuneration is always an issue that comes into play when employees think about whether to stay or go. Employees often know what they’re worth and they want to feel that they are getting it.
Certainly there is no amount of money to make a disengaged employee stay, but it’s not always about salary. Things like bonuses, benefits and welfare contribute to employee loyalty to business. Having said that, if a top performer decides to leave because they’ve accepted another job, making a counter-offer may not do much to retain them. Unless their only reason for leaving was dissatisfaction with their salary, increasing that salary will not resolve whatever issue is making them leave.
For many employees, feeling like they are making progress in their careers is a big factor in staying with a particular business. If employees feel like they have stopped growing in their roles, they’re likely to start to look elsewhere, or if they feel that their careers have stagnated, they become much more likely to leave.
Therefore it should be in the company’s hands to provide a clear trajectory for employees in their careers, and collection of skills.
Career development is a very important piece of the puzzle. One way to tackle this is to make career path discussions a regular part of check-in meetings and performance reviews. These discussions allow managers to discover where employees’ interests lie and where their strengths can be channelled to greater effectiveness and productivity, while at the same time giving employees the sense that they are making a meaningful contribution to the business.
At the end of the day, a constant focus on recruitment can be very time consuming and very expensive for agribusinesses of all types. Every time an employee leaves it creates a disruption in productivity, effectiveness and, very importantly, staff morale.
Certainly, job-hopping has become the new normal, especially among millennials, but organisations can turn the tide and reduce turnover by making sure employees are well compensated, find meaning in their work, feel appreciated and know their career will grow within the company.
Source: Meat Processors Pty Ltd – Managed Workforce