Raising the Bar on Recruitment and Retention within Agriculture at the 2009 US Ag HR Roundtable

It is hard to believe that August has begun! However, from an AgCareers.com perspective, August brings great anticipation and excitement as we look forward to hosting the US Ag HR Roundtable and many of our industry friends. This year, was not a letdown! Last week in Champaign, Illinois, with the help of hosts ADM and The University of Illinois, AgCareers.com hosted over 140 human resource and university professionals for the 7th Annual AgCareers.com Ag HR Roundtable.

“With all that is going on in the economy and travel restrictions being placed within organizations, we were very pleased with our attendance and it is a testament that the agriculture and food industry still is thriving and has many great career opportunities to offer,” said Eric Spell, president of AgCareers.com. This year was one of the most highly attended years in Roundtable history.

Unlike previous years, this year’s event was kicked off on Monday with a panel of executives from a variety of organizations that discussed critical issues that are being talked about within their organizations in regards to recruitment and retention. Many great insights were provided from not over doing metrics to ensuring leadership is playing a role in engaging human capital, and the importance of career mapping for employees to understanding that employees are truly the wealth of the company.

Alexandra Levit, a workplace author and columnist, provided a fresh perspective on the Millennial generation. Focusing more on how employees of this generation work and how they work best in teams provided Roundtable participants with more than just the characteristics of each generation. Levit took a look at the recruitment and engagement processes and how this young generation views current practices as well as tips for improving the effectiveness and tailoring the programs for Millennials. Discussion from this session led immediately to social media and an interesting debate took place between our Millennial Roundtable participants, with some stating that they liked using social media as a tool for recruitment and others did not. The verdict is still out on that one, but Alexandra said it really depends on the way you use social media – blanket messages are ineffective and will act as a turnoff, but using them as a way to converse on a personal level she has seen be effective.

Roundtable participants had the opportunity for more discussion and interaction during the panel entitled, ‘Out-of-the-Box On-Campus Recruiting’. The panel of experts comprised of career services, university faculty, community college faculty, and industry provided a well rounded group of experts for the audience to ask questions of.

“Being able to learn from career services representatives from the schools was probably the best part of the conference for me,” said Beth Schou, Employment Specialist with Ag Processing Inc. “Learning how to understand today’s students in addition to seeing how other companies have accomplished successful branding on campus was the highlight!”

To wrap up the conference we had an entertaining and very informative presentation from Rashad Delph of Tyson Foods. He shared perspective on gaining and sustaining buy-in for training and education within the organization. In a type of case study format, Delph took participants through some of the critical components of offering training, why Tyson places so much value on their training programs, and how training is an integral part of an employee’s life throughout many stages of their career from on-boarding to retention. Rashad’s unique way of relating training done by athletes to training done in a corporate setting really resonated with participants.

Along with the great general sessions, a number of concurrent sessions allowed participants to tailor their learning and select topics that were of interest to them or their organization. These smaller discussion groups really allow participants to dive into the topic and get one-on-one feedback from the presenter.

Of course the Roundtable wouldn’t be complete without a little networking and fun! Participants had the option to participate in networking breakfasts and tours of our host facilities, ADM and The University of Illinois. As well, Syngenta sponsored our Welcome Reception and AgCareers.com and AgrowKnowledge hosted a reception on the second evening leading into dinner. Another highlight of this year’s event was dinner at Memorial Stadium – while the Fighting Illini were not practicing or playing, the views were great and networking exceptional.

AgCareers.com would once again like to take this opportunity to thank this year’s hosts – ADM and The University of Illinois, as well as our additional sponsors, Syngenta and AgrowKnowledge. We would also like to thank again our speakers as well as those that attended as participants. We thank you for your time and commitment to raising the bar within the agriculture industry!

Planning for next year’s event has already begun. The 8th Annual Ag HR Roundtable will be held in Minnetonka, Minnesota on the Syngenta campus, August 2 – 4, 2010. To receive information for the event or to be placed on the mailing list, please email agcareers@agcareers.com.


© 2009 www.agcareers.com