Hiring Inexperienced Employees

The business of agriculture has matured now to the point that many of the people entering our workforce have no experience whatsoever in agriculture, let alone livestock production.


One of the biggest hurdles in preparing new employees for our unique workplace is our own lack of experience in training.  Many of today’s experienced managers and supervisors learned from working side-by-side with their fathers or other family members, and many at a very young age.  Their education was experienced based, and came to them through a process similar to osmosis.  It just sort of happened on its own.  Without being a student, they struggle to be an effective teacher.


Another hurdle is our own familiarity with the dangers and day-to-day activities.  We tend to have built-in radar that gives us ample warning when something is going wrong, unsafe, or otherwise abnormal.  New employees with little or no experience need time to build that same early-warning system.


Here are some keys to training novice employees:

1.)      Provide more thorough training.

2.)      Don’t make assumptions about what they do or do not know.

3.)      Emphasize the basics and don’t move too fast to more complicated procedures before the basics are mastered.

4.)      Use the experience of your seasoned employees that are good teachers.

5.)      Assign a “buddy” to new employees for their first few days so they are working with someone who “knows the ropes.”

6.)      Highlight safety concerns and what can go wrong.  Talk about pinch points, easily overlooked hazards, the dangers of some animal pharmaceuticals to humans, and personal responsibility for safety.

7.)      Remember that employees do what they see experienced employees do, not what they heard in a safety meeting.  Hold everyone accountable for their safe/unsafe behavior.

8.)      Keep safety equipment in place and readily available.

9.)      Talk about high cost areas and how to prevent waste.

10.)  Be patient.  Many of them really don’t know anything about your business or their job on their first day of work.

11.) Provide training to enhance the teaching skills of your managers and other trainers.