By Shankar Das
Farm Business Management Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture
In Saskatchewan, almost all sectors of the economy are in great need of hired labour for their businesses but the labour shortage may have the biggest impact on agriculture. The biggest challenge in acquiring labour in crop production agriculture would be the seasonality of the work. This involves relatively intense periods of long days often followed by similar periods of a much slower pace. So, human resource planning and management are key components in farming.
Human resource planning includes various steps. If the farm is very large it may include developing an organizational chart of personnel based on the various activities and enterprises of the farm. Other farm enterprises besides cropping can be used to provide hired labour with year-long employment as a means of keeping good employees.
Planning also includes developing detailed job descriptions and responsibilities for each of the personnel, their salaries/wages, compensations, benefits and incentives. When implementing the plan be sure at the hiring stage to consider training needs of staff and whether the training can be done on farm or through off farm courses. You will also want to make sure that employees know their assigned duties and responsibilities. Employees are usually paid on a biweekly or monthly basis and any associated benefits and bonuses should be spelled out in a written agreement that is given to the employee.
Farm managers may wish to think creatively in terms of things they can offer to attract and retain good employees. This may include things such as housing as part of the package. As farms expand there may be yard sites with houses that can be repaired and provided to employees and their families. If livestock is part of the farm perhaps an employee can have some cattle of their own. Possibly even the opportunity to rent land on their own and use of machinery to work it may be attractive to some.
As farmers realize they are becoming managers of people, they may like to upgrade their human resource planning and management skills. The Ministry of Agriculture offers funding for human resource management under the program called Farm Business Development Initiative of Growing Forward 2.
For more information, visit, http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/GF2-FBDI. For additional Information contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.