The first warning sign seems like it should be an obvious one. But it isn’t always that simple. This red flag is a farm that can’t keep staff.
The trouble is, it’s easy to blame the employees instead of taking a hard look at whether the problem is closer to home, says Leah Knibbs of consulting firm Kn/a HR Consulting in Weyburn, Sask.
The easy thing is to complain that employees don’t have a work ethic. But that only goes so far, Knibbs counters. “If you can’t keep staff, the common denominator is you.”
Another red flag is when you are losing sleep over someone’s performance or attitude, whether it’s a family or non-family employee.
“You’ve got something in your belly that’s working on you,” says Knibbs. Typically, she says, it means you’re seeing problems with an employee’s performance, but you don’t know how to address it.
The third flag is if you find yourself wondering if you are meeting employment standards set out by law, and you’re not exactly sure how to find out, such as questions about how you are compensating your staff, how you are handling their health and safety, or the conditions of their employment.
The first step is to put your issues into perspective.
You aren’t the only one to have questions, Knibbs says. The HR environment is changing, both in terms of employee expectations and in terms of the rules and regulations, and rural employers of all kinds are finding it can be a challenge to keep up.
Farmers facing HR issues should remember that they’ve overcome new problems already. Knibbs compares it to her family’s experience on their own farm when wheat midge first started chewing through southern Saskatchewan crops. Her husband was losing sleep over this new problem.
“So what does he do? He calls somebody who knows about this stuff, and then he increased his capacity,” Knibbs says. “And dealing with wheat midge just became a regular thing.”