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Thinking Beyond The Paycheck: How to Hold on to Employees

Peter Martin

February 2, 2022

Who called in sick today? Who left your farm for a new job? Who decided to retire early?

If you’re short on employees, you’re not alone. Agriculture was already facing a tight labor market before the pandemic hit, and employment challenges have intensified since then. Increased concerns about new COVID-19 variants and shifting ideas about work/life balances are creating unprecedented times for employers and employees.

New forces are at work, and I don’t see them changing any time soon.

Even so, this presents an opportunity to reset the appeal your operation holds for employees. If you’re willing to go beyond traditional perks, the rewards are huge.

One thing is clear: Employers can no longer stick their heads in the sand and ignore labor’s changing dynamics.

Here are some pointers that can help build long-lasting connections with your team:

1. Don’t just focus on money.

While financial compensation is absolutely important to employees, it’s not the only thing. In fact, it’s often not the No. 1 driver in retaining staff. There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “People quit their bosses, not their jobs.” Employees often leave because they feel disengaged, unappreciated or uninspired. Make time to talk with employees and become familiar with their families or interests. That can be a game-changer in creating the emotional ties that bond employees to your company.

2. Help employees believe in your vision and mission.

It’s important for them to see the big picture of your business and the part they play in its overall success. Those who don’t grasp your company’s direction become at-risk employees. Interact with your team to acknowledge, encourage and empower them.

3. Be creative with benefits.

Traditional perks include take-home vehicles, allowances for uniforms, fuel and phones, and even time off to attend family events. But learning what’s important to your employees can lead you to other benefits, such as tickets to their favorite football team’s game. Maybe you cook a meal for them or have pizza delivered every week. Offer a trip for them and their family when they hit a key performance goal. What about offering college tuition or scholarships? Don’t overlook the importance of offering healthcare insurance. And make sure you remind employees of the value of those benefits.


Hiring employees is expensive and time-consuming. Finding and retaining them in a tight job market is crucial.

A proactive approach to show you appreciate your team doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple steps like connecting with each person and offering thoughtful rewards can build employee loyalty. Just as important, they can make your farm or ranch a place where people want to work.


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