Employing people

Attracting and retaining skilled and effective employees is essential for the growth and continued development of a business. The resources required to attract, recruit and train an employee to the level at which they are competent are significant, as are the direct and indirect costs to the business and other employees when staff leave.

Attraction and retention strategies

Many external factors are constricting the pool of potential employees in agriculture. Such factors include the resources boom, drought, changes in population growth and distribution, education and training and urban migration. This is making it increasingly difficult to attract good employees and making the retention of good staff more important to businesses.

Attracting an effective and skilled workforce

With labour shortages facing the agricultural industry, producers should consider broadening the pool of potential employees. This may include considering transient workers, migrant workers, the under-employed and even job sharing arrangements or apprenticeships and traineeships.

Considerations for attracting potential employees include:

  • Clearly defining the role.
  • Effectively communicating what a position entails at the beginning of the recruitment process.
  • Ensuring candidates understand the remuneration package (cash and non-cash), the work hours and work-life balance being offered and the work environment.
  • Avoiding rushed recruitment, considering the long-term requirements of the position and aligning employee selection with future needs.

There are a number of factors that will influence potential employee interest in applying and accepting the position including:

  • work conditions
  • flexibility for work/life balance
  • career development
  • salary, job security and non-salary rewards
  • projected image of the workforce and the employer
  • alignment between personal values and company values
  • location

It is the role of the employer to determine which factors will be emphasised when advertising a position. This will, in turn, influence the nature of the applicants that are attracted to the position.

Ongoing management to ensure job satisfaction

Once employed, there are a number of crucial factors that will determine whether employees stay or leave. Every employer's approach to ongoing staff management will vary depending on the business and circumstances, however, factors to consider include:

  • Work place culture - the culture of the work environment will directly affect an employee's level of satisfaction. Employers should ensure the workplace is as pleasant, fair and enjoyable as possible. This should extend to ensuring fairness and consistency in remuneration.
  • Nature of work - the work an employee is required to do should match the description that was provided during the employment process.
  • Enterprise objectives - employees should be provided with an overview of the objectives of the enterprise so they can appreciate how their role contributes to the business.
  • Feedback - Fair and effective performance feedback and recognition are important to ensuring job satisfaction. Employees should feel that the employer is approachable and accessible
  • Two-way communication - Maintain dialogue with employees to ensure that they are content with their work environment. Consider conducting a regular employee survey to determine satisfaction levels and conduct skills audits to determine skills employees have and how they can and would like be up-skilled.
  • Business reputation - Wherever possible, employers should promote the enterprises reputation to build pride amongst employees and to attract new staff.
  • Protection - Employees must be confident that they are protected through an effective occupational health and safety system and appropriate insurances.

Meeting legal obligations

Employers have a number of legal obligations, including:

  • Offering equal opportunities to any job applicant as well as equal and fair treatment on-the-job.
  • Determining whether workers are contractors or employees.
  • Making accurate superannuation guarantee contributions for eligible employees into an approved superannuation fund at least four times a year.
  • Withholding the appropriate level of 'pay as you go' (PAYG) tax from employee earnings and remitting the amounts withheld to the Australian Tax Office.
  • Ensuring the appropriate types and levels of insurances are held to protect the safety of the business and the employees
  • Providing a safe working environment that complies with occupational health and safety regulations and practices.

While these factors are legal obligations they can also have an impact on employee satisfaction and tenure. Employers should refer to the relevant state and federal authorities for their specific legal obligations when employing people.

More information

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