2009 Top Trends for Agribusiness HR Planning

Thirty-two agribusiness organizations in the U.S. and twenty-seven in Canada completed the annual AGRIBUSINESS HR REPORT™, which provides insight, market knowledge and data on a range of human resources "best practices" specific to the industry. The HR best practices report is a survey containing over 60 questions ranging in topics from salary reviews, management performance schemes, benefits/salary packaging information, employer branding and recruitment best practices.

With report findings, information was consolidated for United States and Canadian audiences in a variety of industry sectors, including: ag chem/seed, animal health and nutrition, swine production and genetics, commodity and cooperative organizations, as well as meat processing, rural finance, equipment, and cattle production groups.

While a great deal of information was gathered and analyzed in the report, several common trends were evident among the responding companies.

Recruitment through Referrals
The 2009 report shows that employee referral programs and networks rank at the top of the list to recruit employees. This trend has been a constant for the three years AgCareers.com has been conducting the survey. If you have not considered an employee referral benefit program, keep your program simple and easy to manage and your employees will continue to refer quality talent.

Job Boards
When it comes to methods of attracting employees, online job boards rank second among agribusiness organizations. This trend is further validated by the fact that job postings have increased 44% from 2007 on the AgCareers.com website. While some employers have had to lay off workers – many agribusiness industries continue to advertise available openings and others are now turning the corner.

Base Pay Increases
Another interesting trend related to salary information shared in the report includes the varying incentive schemes that agribusiness employers offer. More than 80% of the employers that participated in the agribusiness salary survey compensate individuals beyond base pay. In addition, the majority of responding companies have budgeted for a salary increase of 2.1% to 3%. This is a one-percent decrease from base pay increases reported last year at this time and of course evidence of the current market conditions. However, most agribusiness employers were able to provide a base pay increase given the economic instability this year.

Measuring Employee Satisfaction
While employee satisfaction is often a question asked in exit interviews, 58% of U.S. agribusiness companies and 48% of Canadian agribusiness employers measure employee satisfaction. This number has gone up since AgCareers.com has been reporting this rate.

“Employee satisfaction surveys can assist management with feedback regarding why their employees refer other individuals to open positions and whether their employees understand their organization’s business goals and even their individual performance goals,” commented Eric Spell, President of AgCareers.com. AgCareers.com has assisted organizations over the past two years with products to help them collect and analyze this information.

Flexible Staffing
Forty-eight percent of agribusiness employers have noticed a need for flexible staffing solutions (surprisingly down 8% from last year’s survey). The most popular flexible staffing solutions noted were temporaries or contractors (through employment agencies), and employment of part-time staff. Internships were not as prevalent across the agribusiness employer group surveyed this year most likely due to the economic environment.

In Canada, the most popular flexible staffing approach has been for employees to telecommute, or work from home. Thirty-seven percent of Canadian employers have recognized the need for some type of flexible staffing solution.

Retirement Increases
As with most industries, more individuals will be exiting the workforce due to retirement in the next few years. The majority of employers contributing to the HR report estimate they will have one to five percent of employees retiring in the next four years.

Forty-four percent of Canadian employers and 45% of U.S. employers predict their employee base will grow in size in the next two years. Spell comments that, “A solid workforce planning strategy will assist our agribusiness clients grow to meet the demands of the future. Employers can also start now with strong internship and management development programs, along with a strong employer branding strategy.”


AgCareers.com is an industry leader and information gatherer to the agribusiness industry. To get this HR best practices data for your organization, the 2009 AgCareers.com AGRIBUSINESS HR REPORT™, please inquire with AgCareers.com. For more information, contact AgCareers.com by phone: 800.929.8975 or e-mail: compensation@agcareers.com.


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