Report Synopsis

Growing Your Business with People

Reece Curwen

People are a critical element to the success of farm businesses, and with the right people there are no limits to how large a business can grow. Managing people in any organisation or business, consequently, is one of the most important tasks; people are all different, therefore there is no standard procedure when it comes to managing them. This report highlights the need for strategic people management.

Some of the challenges identified by Australian farm businesses include that the number of people in rural areas is decreasing, the average age of farmers is increasing and the industry has not focused enough on the development of their workforce to engage the next generation into agriculture. The key objective of this report is to provide farmers, and business leaders, direction when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining quality people within their businesses.

Developing a positive company culture should be the number one priority for farmers. Culture is defined by behaviour, and it is created by design or default. The most successful farm businesses visited had developed company cultures people wanted to be a part of. The key elements influencing the development of culture include;

  • Strong leadership: with a clear vision of where the business is heading, bound by good governance, core values and business goals.
  • Effective and productive communication: binds the plan with the action and ensures that team members are well informed.
  • An understanding of the employee’s vision: getting the best out of a colleague is difficult if the employer does not understand what drives them.
  • Training, training, training: gives the employee every opportunity to grow their knowledge, take on more responsibility and make their own decisions.
  • Empowering employees: If an employee fully understands the purpose behind the business, receiving added responsibility improves the standard of work and creates a mutual benefit between the business and the individual.

Human resources plans, designed for both employers and employees, must embed the company’s culture into workplace practices. Farmers who do this will help alleviate the issues of staff retention and help develop the business reputation as an “employer of choice”.

Industry expertise in developing human resource plans will be essential in supporting farmers to better manage their workforce. This can come from industry bodies and/or private companies to help fill the gap between the needs of the farmer and the resources readily available.

The next generation will be the source of our future leaders. They are looking for dynamic workplaces that provide challenging and autonomous opportunities. Agriculture is an exciting industry facing stiff competition from other industries, such as mining, to attract this next generation. It is up to everyone to sell their stories, to promote their business and industry and show the next generation why it is worth being a part of. A key component of this will be to present a positive culture informed by strategic governance, training and employment plans, and a commitment to business and personnel growth opportunities that benefit the whole organisation.

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