In the second article of our #ThisIsAgriculture campaign, Danusia Osiowy takes a closer look at one of the most significant cultural changes facing all current employers looking to recruit and retain the best in the business.
Can you spot a millennial from a Gen Z? A Baby Boomer from a Traditionalist? Haven’t a clue or care about any of it? Herewith lies the problem.
There has been a significant cultural shift across the generations within the global employment landscape and agriculture is no different.
Individuals entering any industry today have requirements, ambitions and expectations, and if our industry wants to recruit the best new blood and prevent current employees from jumping ship, understanding and reacting to those needs is vital.
At the heart of this change is the emergence of two particularly strong generational identities referred to as either a ‘millennial’ or ‘Generation Z’.
And while the two have become buzzwords with business researchers and the media worldwide, how many of us in agriculture really understand what either is and why it even matters?
The challenge of recruiting into the agricultural industry is not a new one.
In fact, many sectors are fighting the same battle over how to attract, engage and retain the brightest individuals on the market.
If agriculture wants its talent and expertise to thrive, harnessing the right people in the right way is crucial, as is understanding their professional wants and needs.
The main challenges surrounding recruitment into agriculture is sourcing labour, finding those with the appropriate skills and the right mindset.
John Tanner, founder and principal consultant of Business Consulting Solutions, says: “Each generation comes with its own values and perspective of the world based on their life experiences.
“They are shaped by their year of birth, age and critical events that occurred in society, and these differences give each generation unique work values and work ethics and preferred ways of managing and being managed.”
In a report published last year, KPMG highlighted companies needed to better their efforts in understanding the current workforce demographic if they are to recruit and retain the best.
The one-size-fits-all approach simply does not exist anymore, explains Sitara Kurian, the report’s lead author and KPMG’s management consultant.
She says: “Millennials are the bulk of the people on the ground: the do-ers. They currently comprise 35 per cent of the UK’s workforce and are set to represent 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020.
“They bring wants and needs which differ greatly to those that came before them and hold more bargaining power than ever before in the labour market place.
“Companies need to be aware of how to move that power in their favour, alluring them with the right selling points and plying them with the right perks to make them stick around and stop them jumping ship.”
Brexit and the power of the sterling is already affecting labour sourcing. Farm businesses sourcing labour from eastern Europe are particularly struggling and finding those with the appropriate skills and knowledge is also a challenge.
Research by Farmers Guardian has also identified a skills gap in technical roles, low-skilled seasonal labour and in middle management.
So what areas can agricultural businesses focus on to help attract and retain the right staff in line with the wider cultural, professional and social trends?
Culture is key: As millennials scan the market place for their next job move, they are looking at how the employer portrays the overall experience of working with them and that will influence whether or not to apply for the position.
Work must be enjoyable: Millennials embody the sentiment that life is too short to be stuck in a dead-end job.
If anything is perceived as ‘long’ or ‘boring’ you have lost them; enjoyment of their working day is key.
Open and honest communication is a must: Millennials are honest with one another and expect the same from their employer. They want to know their opinion matters and their insights are contributing to a bigger picture which is allowing the company to develop.
Mentor motivation: Millennials are known for being headstrong and having firm views on their direction in life, but they still need to harness their ambition, refine ideas and focus on developing their strengths.
Work-life balance is compulsory: Whereas previous generations only hoped for a work-life balance, this group want to control their own working hours and location.
An appetite to progress: If millennials do not see the chance to move up, they move on. Generally people do not start their careers with the job they want for the rest of their lives, but instead want to gain skills to eventually earn their dream job.
Job security is crucial: In an age where jobs could be outsourced or automated, millennials are anxious about their job and stability is key.
Farmers Guardian has joined forces with 21 key industry stakeholders from across the farming sector to launch a new campaign, #ThisIsAgriculture, to promote careers in agriculture.
The challenge of recruiting is not a new one. Attracting new blood into the industry has always been an issue, with agriculture rarely sold as an exciting option into schools.
However, with the pace of technological change rapidly widening the skills gap and Brexit looming, the need to drive change within the industry has intensified greatly over recent years.
Building on the learning from the #ThisIsAgriculture survey, this initiative will work to educate the wider world about the wealth of opportunities available within the sector, as well as dispelling common myths about careers in agriculture.
We will also be collaborating with industry bodies and our industry partners to see where we can work together to shape the political agenda, drive educational reform and provide learning resources.
The campaign will also be sharing information with readers about how to attract – and retain – the right staff for farming businesses across the UK.