Organizations That Can Do This Will Sustainably Win Key Talent

Five critical measures to win the tug-of-war battle with other employers in the swine industry and the geographical market.

As the “signing bonus” strategy begins to fade, endless PTO offers end in mixed results and everyone shifts to one idea or the next, the same question remains … “what is the answer on how to attract and retain our talent?” Better yet, what if the question was part of the answer?

At the close of June, 10.7 million job openings were left open with 4.2 million people leaving their job. That’s a million more people than the entire state of Iowa leaving their role for greener pastures.

“So, you’re telling me that the $2,000 sign-on bonus didn’t work?” Well, it did … and it didn’t. Attracting talent through a transaction creates just that, a transactional relationship. However, it doesn’t have to exist as one once they’re hired. But if you fail to prioritize the relationship post-hire you will be making another listing on Indeed soon.

So how are you going to win this tug-of-war battle with other employers in your industry or geographical market? Here are five critical measures you must take.

1. Compensate accordingly

It’s difficult to attract talent if you’re posting wages and yours comes in 20% below market. You may get a hire, however there are a couple things you may come up on unexpectedly.

One of which is perception of value. If other employers are openly beating you in compensation by roughly 20% in a less labor demanding role ,you’ll easily begin competing with the thought of “how much do they think I am worth?”

If they do come on to the team, the competing employers have a strong ability to come in and sweep them off their feet. These may seem a little rough but they’re true.

Action: Review your labor market and challenge your leadership team on how development of team members can add value to roles. It’s never the price, it’s the value.

2. Define success

But why would they leave the opportunity to leave an impact on their team and world? Well, our desire is to make an impact and have a purpose. One of the main ways we do that is looking to fulfill our personal level of success.

Each one of us have taken our own unique path towards success yet the clarity on what that means to ourselves is getting less clear in time.

If your team leaders don’t take the time or effort into helping their team define success for themselves on a personal level, they default to one of two things:

  1. Monetary achievement
  2. Career progression

Yes, two things every employer has a limitation to. Their definition of success could be making it to every one of their daughter’s games, taking one big vacation every year, becoming a breeding department head or retiring by 55. Any path is great, just so long as it’s theirs.

Action: Schedule to meet with your team members. Define success (personally and professionally) and an action plan to help them achieve it.

3. Give them something to win at every day

The swine industry can be incredibly rewarding yet often humbling, and looking at your performance monitor doesn’t tell the best story on the efforts being put in by your team.

There is little way to sugar coat a health issue at a farm in which the team works just as hard, if not harder than they did without it. Yet the results won’t be there again for months.

You will need to find a way to track daily improvement and wins by the team through audit scores, task lists or even preventative safety actions.

Our managers with PigFlow guide their teams in their daily workflow and when a team successfully hits leading action targets it presents a great way to reward efforts and progress by the team.

Action: Interview managers and team members. Ask “how are we tracking and acknowledging leading effort?” If you’re not, feel free to reach out to me for ideas.

4. Remove unnecessary pain

There will continue to be physical labor and difficulty in raising livestock, but you will need to continually evaluate where the unnecessary parts are and improve them.

Action: Do this in two ways:

  • Employee interviews- Interview your team to identify pain points, go through a problem-solving practice such as the 5 Whys to identify the cause of the issue and transparently work together to find a solution.
  • Workflow Map– Map out workflow in your area of the business from start to finish, identify areas that are bottlenecks or known issues and work towards a resolution.

5. Hold leaders accountable to caring

It’s qualitative and difficult to track on a P & L, yet it’s all over your results. Caring for your team members doesn’t always mean that you’ll go boating on the weekend together. It does mean that you will make a strong effort around making the lives of one another around you better.

Let this sink in. If you work a 45-hour work week you spend roughly 40-50% of your awake hours with your team. Not your family, not your friends or your pet cat … your team. So, when you spend 40-50% of your life and don’t feel cared for … yep, you leave.

So, if keeping your current team and bringing in more is on your priority list don’t be afraid to ask a senior leader “how have you shown you care about your team today?”

Action: For the next month, ask your team each day how they cared for others on the team. If not, then We Care?

These won’t be the only things that will have a lasting impact on your ability to attract, retain and grow talent but they will continue to be foundational elements to staying relevant in any labor market.

I challenge you to review how each of these five looks today at your organization. Take a notepad out, bullet out the five and challenge yourself on writing down how you are currently fulfilling these five and how you can improve it going forward.

By Barrett Eller

*Image from National Pork Board

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