Written by B. Lynn Gordon (former SDSU Extension Agricultural Leadership Specialist).
There never seems to be a slow time around a farm or ranch. The to do list is always there, and as a result farm owners and managers who oversee employees and or work alongside family members sometimes can overlook how important it is to allocate time to enhance the skills and abilities of those who work for you. There are great opportunities year round, such as tours, field days and seminars employers can take advantage of as continued educational opportunities for your employees. Recognizing you believe in helping them succeed builds pride and commitment to your business along with increasing their abilities.
Four Benefits of Continued Education
- Reduces employee turnover. Employees who do not feel properly trained for their job, or are unhappy being asked to do something they weren’t aware would become a regular task, or was not in their job description, can result in employee turnover. When one employee leaves, this adds stress to others to pick up the slack. Once the employee is hired, keep the lines of communication open so they feel comfortable speaking up about a task or role they don’t feel completely trained to conduct.
- New technology requires new skills. The high infusion of technology into all aspects of agriculture is demanding a more skilled workforce. Recent graduates and hires may be recently trained on these technologies, but your longer term employees might be at a disadvantage if you expect them to achieve certain goals without providing them access to new skills. Training can be costly, as it’s downtime for the employees, but fortunately with new agriculture technology comes more access to trainings via webinars, podcasts etc. Traveling to on-site trainings is not always required, however, face-face trainings offered through Extension or other organizations provide a great opportunity for networking with others in attendance as well as learning from the trainers.
- Impacts safety. Improperly educated and trained employees, can result in increased accidents, injuries and down-time. If accidents are prevented due to proper training where employees may receive certifications or documentation of completed required trainings. In some cases this may impact insurance premiums and the marketing potential of certain products your operation is producing.
- Updating job descriptions. Depending on the size and type of your agricultural operation you may or may not have written job descriptions for your employees. More and more operations are developing descriptions to assist with recruitment, clarifying duties, documentation, etc. Even extended family operations are moving towards more job descriptions to clarify roles. When training is identified for a position that is the perfect time to update the job description before one forgets rather than try and remember when it’s time to fill the job in the future.
Maximizing your greatest asset. What a better way to instill positivity and motivation in your employees, but to let them know that you are 100% behind them by investing time in training and keeping their skills up to pace with technology or a new enterprise you have added. The U.S. Small Business Administration website discusses, ‘Maximizing your greatest resource – Employee Training’ and emphasizes confidence comes from ability, and results in productivity.