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6 Keys to Keeping Top Talent

Finding and keeping top talent has been a recent struggle for all industries, but in ag, the challenge escalated even more post-COVID. Now, ag retailers in often remote, rural locations are competing with employers who can offer remote working opportunities. In a recent ag retail survey conducted by *CropLife, 60% of respondents say labor issues are the #1 issue keeping them up at night. If you feel the same way, make sure you’re taking care of your employees so you can avoid high turnover. Here are some things you can do to retain top talent.


Show Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated at their workplace. Employees give up a large portion of their day to their employer and want to feel like that time is valued. It’s not hard to show appreciation, and it goes a long way to retaining top talent. A simple “thank you” for a job well done is a meaningful way to show that worker dedication isn’t taken for granted. Here are a few other ideas to show employee appreciation.

Send an employee viral

Use social media to call out an employee who went above and beyond for customer success. 

Throw a party

You probably offer customer appreciation events, so why not celebrate your internal team, too? Consider a party to praise your team’s success.

Give a gift

After a stretch of long days at the office, bring in dinner or lunch to your team, along with a sincere “thank you” for their dedication. Gift cards are also an unexpected way to show appreciation for a well-done job.

Provide time for R&R

During your slower seasons, give employees time off to recuperate and recharge.  


Offer Flexibility

The COVID pandemic changed the ways employees work forever. Under lockdown, most workers got a taste of what a flexible work environment looks like, and many aren’t looking back. McKinsey reports that companies’ narrow views on workplace flexibility are pushing people out of their current jobs and even out of the workforce entirely. While it may seem that the ag retail business model isn’t set up for flexibility, there are things you can do to empower your employees to work the way they want to.

Creative work schedules

The nature of ag retail requires seasonal, around-the-clock availability, which can create burnout among employees. During those busy seasons, consider ways to offer your employees a break. For example, would a shift-share program work for your organization? Instead of having one employee working a 10-hour weekend day, split the shift into two 5-hour segments. Or, perhaps you could stagger work schedules, so that customer and employee needs are covered. Another option is to hire temporary help during those high-burnout periods to divvy the workload.

Be open-minded

If you can’t offer flexible work locations or schedules, think about ways to improve employee agency at your workplace. Usually, there is more than one way to get a job done. Is your leadership open to letting employees work how they want to? Perhaps that means they use a digital tool to keep track of customer orders instead of the manual forms your business provides. Maybe they’ve found a more efficient way to communicate with their customers. Be open to change and give your employees the autonomy to work their own way.


Pay Employees What They’re Worth

With fierce competition for top talent, you won’t get away with meek compensation packages. Recruiters are hounding experienced employees, and it’s never been easier for job-seekers to find a new opportunity. By offering competitive salaries, your employees will be less inclined to bite when that recruiter picks up the phone. Assess employee pay at least annually and compare your wages to those of your top competitors. Rising inflation means the annual standard 3% salary increase won’t cut it for most employees anymore. Invest in your talent’s compensation to keep them working hard for your team.


Provide Purpose and Clear Expectations

Younger workers are more purpose-driven in their careers than the generations before them. If they don’t see value in what they’re doing, expect your less senior staff to move on. Having a purpose starts with a clear vision from upper management. Does your business have a mission statement? Are your company values communicated and demonstrated? What do you stand for? Younger generations will want to know the answers to these questions to ensure their personal beliefs and values align with yours.

Harvard Business School (HBS) researchers, using Great Place To Work’s extensive database, found that companies whose employees experienced purpose at work and believed their leaders set clear direction and expectations outperformed the stock market by 6.9%.


Invest in Personal and Professional Development

When employees begin to feel their job duties plateau, they often start looking for their next challenge. Keep your team engaged by investing in their personal and professional development. An open conversation about your employees’ future goals with your company can help you build a development plan for success. Has your top field agronomist decided that his true passion lies in ag tech? Use that information to find training and work opportunities to build those skills. Maybe your office manager would like to learn Spanish to communicate more effectively with your customers. Look into resources that can help her get started on that journey. Listening to, investing in and supporting your teams’ goals shows that you are dedicated to their development and value their contributions.

It can be tough to find top talent in today’s competitive market. One way to reduce labor challenges is by retaining the team you’ve already built. Show appreciation, be flexible, pay competitively, provide purpose and invest in development to keep your employees happy, engaged and committed to your business.


Invest in Technology That Makes Their Jobs Easier

Technology has made a lot of things easier, including our jobs.  Investing in technology that can make it easier for your employees to preform their day-to-day tasks can eliminate burn out and help them achieve greater career success. More success = greater job satisfaction. A platform like GROWERS Rally can help your employees stay organized, and provide a professional sales experience for their customers – a win for your customer, your employee and ultimately for you.

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*CropLife ag retail survey.     

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