With a few more weeks left for school, students are looking for summertime jobs. They’re in competition with retirees, stay-at-home mothers and many others looking for jobs. They’ll apply to as many places as they can, even your operations. How do you know if it’s worthwhile to have a seasonal employee on your farm?

Here are a few things you have to remember when hiring:

1. Have they worked in agriculture before?

At times, employees may express interest in farm work and tell you they have done it before. However, they may have exaggerated the truth and end up getting hurt or not adjusting to the long hours and hard labor.

According to the University of Missouri Extension the cost of hiring unqualified employees can exceed the time requirements of finding out if this person is right for the job. The extension recommends asking questions such as what they would do if a sow was having trouble during labor or to have your diesel-powered tractor refueled and give the prospective employee a choice of diesel or gasoline.

Getting into a little detail will quickly weed out which prospective employees are right for the job. Michigan State University created a helpful checklist for employers when hiring. Click here to access it.

2. Do they have references?

When hiring, it’s crucial to ask for references. Most are previous employers, teachers and other community leaders. Asking questions about agricultural work experience can quickly determine if the potential employee is the right fit for your farm. The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recommends asking the reference about a candidate’s former job duties at their former employer.

It is reasonable to ask the simple question, “Would you hire this person?”

It’s acceptable to ask the reference to confirm employment dates and positions held.

3. Be clear on what you expect

They won’t know unless you tell them. Be clear on what you expect from an potential employee. Having the job descriptions in writing with the employee’s signature is a great way to list out your expectations. A contract will ensure the employee understands what you expect and you can hold them accountable. It’s also important to list your hour and physical labor requirements. According to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach department, an employer should list any activity that an employee might have to do along with a description of working conditions.   

Lastly, it’s important to give the employee a safe, welcoming work atmosphere. An employer-employee relationship can make or break employee retention. Business loyalty is a two-way street and owners can often receive more employee loyalty and motivation by simple expressions of gratitude. According to the University of Missouri Extension, recognition for a job well-done, supervision and a sense of community will more likely ensure the employee will stay working for the farm rather than going elsewhere.


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