Banner for It Takes Two To Retain Your People

You’ve just hired someone for your ag retail operation that you think is a smart and hard worker who will be a great fit as you anticipate them working their way up the ladder—but six months later, they tell you they are leaving.

What went wrong? Nothing specific, but maybe things not said or done.

There are numerous reasons why a person may choose to leave your ag retail shop shortly after being hired—but instead, let’s look at solutions that will show you how to retain your new hire.

It’s a simple fix—two simple fixes, actually—that will help you avoid having to go through the rehiring process again and again providing you with the peace of mind that the employee you hired is the employee that wants to stay.

CAAR Communicator asked Stacy Brownridge, CPHR, HR & Talent Development Advisor, Winfield United Canada for her professional advice on the subject. She is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources who has worked in many facets of the agriculture industry in Western Canada for the majority of her 25-year career.

Brownridge has provided HR support for managers and employees for crop input suppliers, crop input retailers, ag machinery manufacturers and for their own farming operation just outside of Arcola in southeast Saskatchewan.

She joined the WinField United Canada team in January 2021, a leading retail-owned distribution and service company that supports a network of locally-owned ag retailers across the country committed to local farmers.

Brownridge provided the following advice your ag retail operation should adopt to provide better employee retention.


Here’s What You Need To Know

If you’ve heard of orientation, you have the definition for onboarding, a new term for an old HR procedural must.

For an ag retailer, it is extremely important to do the following steps of onboarding at the management level, regardless of the position the person is hired into.

  1. After your new employee has verbally accepted employment and prior to their first day, ensure you have collected a signed employment contract, confidentiality agreements, non-compete agreements and/or provided you their drivers abstract. Every ag retail will have different pre-employment requirements for their new hires.
  2. You must have an onboarding process. When your new employee comes to work on that first day, be organized and get them set up for the basics—whether it is for payroll, benefits, pension, employee guidelines or health and safety protocols. This is the day your company makes them realize they are now part of the company. How you proceed from there is entirely up to you—whether you treat them like family or as a valued team player—make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. This protects you and the employee.
  3. Make sure the new employee knows how they are going to learn their job. Whether it is work-shadowing with a more senior team member or time spent with their manager, it is important they are fully briefed on what is expected from them in their new role.
  4. Ensure the new hire has an established person at the company that they can talk with to learn their job to its full potential. It must be some-one your ag retail trusts to teach them the right way of doing things and has the right skillset for providing mentorship. Also, it is important that the designated mentor be aware of the new responsibility and has agreed to perform the important new assignment.

It may seem like overkill, but it’s not. I cannot stress it enough. First impressions are important not only for the new employee but also for the company.

We want to ensure the new employee is placed in the best possible position to succeed by removing barriers to make them comfortable.

This easily-achievable action will allow people to become a functioning employee quicker, which is what the employee and employer both want—to be able to hit the ground running without worrying about the necessary red tape or the whirlwind of information they are inundated with on the first day.


The Management of Performance

Because it is important for a new hire to know goals and/or expectations an employer may have of them, it is conversely important for the employer to know as well.

Everyone wants to do a good job, but it is important to tell them what a good job will look like.

It could be expectations regarding customer contact, sales or even yard maintenance, laying out expectations ensures an employee is aware how evaluations will be monitored moving forward.

Making sure the new employee is informed at the onset when performance reviews/performance feedback will take place, so a schedule is established. As a manager, ensuring you adhere to the timelines you have established is crucially important. If the established timelines are not adhered to, it sets in a feeling of mistrust into this very important process.

If there are issues that arise prior to an established performance evaluation, it should never be held over to your established meeting time. Instead, it should be taken care of right away. Timelines are important, but so too is ensuring employees are made aware of any of your concerns.

Performance evaluation feedback is a two-way street, not merely a one-way discussion of any pent-up feelings or resentment.

Quite often management may have a singular way of performing a given task, but an employee may have found a more equitable work-around. Do not be afraid to listen and to allow for initiative.

Remember: if there was a singular best way to do anything, everyone would be doing it.

On Day One, correctly set the tone. Have your onboarding process at the ready and have a prepared evaluation system in advance to ensure that you, the ag retailer, and employee, are all capable of moving forward on the right foot.


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