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Guide Offers Help on Hiring, Keeping Farm Employees
Missouri Ag Connection - 09/13/2017

University of Missouri Extension recently released its 2017 Farm Labor Guide.

Finding and keeping dependable workers is one of the largest challenges today for farm owners and managers, says MU Extension agricultural economist Joe Horner. "As farms grow in size, learning to recruit, manage and retain high-quality employees becomes even more critical."

The free online publication is MU Extension's response to farmers' requests for a simple, Missouri-specific guide to navigating the complexities of human resources management, Horner says.

The guide is available as a downloadable PDF file at www.agebb.missouri.edu/commag/farmlabor.

Horner, MU Extension agricultural economist Ryan Milhollin and agribusiness consultant Alice Roach created the guide to help employers make decisions that lead to a quality workforce and satisfied employees.

The guide divides the employment process into six segments: recruitment; hiring; onboarding, training and mentoring; operations; retention; and termination.

Horner says the guide gives a systematic list to identify and hire suitable employees. The guide covers safety, employee compensation and other human resources protocols.

Horner says it is important to decide on the needs of the operation before the employee search begins. Does the farm or business need full-time or part-time help? What are the hours that the employee is needed? Is the work seasonal or year-round?

After the employer makes these decisions, Horner recommends creating a formal job description. This helps job seekers decide if they qualify for a job or have an interest. It also helps the employer track whether applicants qualify, need training and if goals are met after the hire. It sets expectations of the employee's role and relationships with coworkers, vendors and others.

The guide outlines six steps to writing a job description and tells where to publicize job postings for best results. It also offers advice on interviewing, including a list of acceptable and unacceptable questions, and general work rules such as overtime.

The guide discusses subjects such as background, drug and reference checks, as well as needed paperwork, taxes and employment laws. It follows through with options for training and mentoring.

The guide lists numerous free online resources to recruitment and hiring from extension specialists across the country.

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