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How Do Ag Industry Changes Impact Compensation?



Over this past summer, conducted our eleventh Agribusiness HR Review™which provides a wealth of market data and industry trends for ag companies from 2017 into 2018.  Preliminary results highlight challenges felt throughout the ag industry, as there are notable shifts in the recruiting environment and labor force.  


A culmination of the recruiting trends reported by the participating ag companies affirms “competing for talent and recruiting difficulties” (70%) is the human resources concern atop most HR professional’s minds.  Current trends highlighted workforce planning challenges were presented through turnover, both voluntary (74%) and involuntary (37%), recruitment difficulties (49%), retirements (39%), the need for different skills/classifications (31%) and the changing job market (30%).  These factors were all reported at significant percentages, highlighting many of the challenges touching agribusiness organizations today.  


Projections for the expansion of the ag workforce indicated that a solid 48% of the participants expect their workforce to increase in size over the next two years.  A higher than usual 44% indicated acquisition/merger activity as a driving factor behind their workforce increase, while most (73%) continued to cite growth strategy.   


For ag companies entering fall salary reviews and adjustments, what does this changing environment mean for compensation?  How should companies look to remain competitive and retain employees respond to their existing workforce? Should benefits remain a priority for employers as they renew vendor contracts for these offering?


The survey showed that in the changing recruiting landscape, participating companies reportedly compete against other employers by offering better benefits (73%) and higher compensation (42%).  An important focus remains first on offering enhanced benefits, and then second most importantly pay.  Health insurance, retirement savings/match, and bonuses were indisputably the most prevalent core benefits currently offered by participating organizations.  A new trend corresponding to this highlights that the single highest objective for introducing performance rewards (bonuses) is now to retain top employees (70%).  


Though higher compensation was also an area where companies compete for talent (over 40%), not all employees may see significant changes to their compensation.  Some 57% of participants indicated that “Yes, all staff” were likely to see an increase in the next 12 months, a noteworthy 40% said, “Yes, some staff.”  This could be related to new data reflecting 68% of ag companies participating in the survey plan to allocate a larger portion of salary increases to high performers.  Ag companies again indicated that salary increases were distributed primarily in the form of merit and performance-based rewards when asked about the type of increases they would be allocating.  As the labor market becomes more competitive, companies look closely at how to best provide compensation incentives to retain their top employees.


No matter how large or small, companies have an effective and strategically sound solution to manage compensation programs with the Compensation Benchmark Review (CBR),’s agribusiness salary survey.  This online tool is designed specifically for the needs of the agribusiness industry. The CBR provides meaningful salary and benefits data on a wide array of positions. Data is available in multiple reporting formats to easily benchmark and compare data.  To get started, email


About the Agribusiness HR Review™


This annual survey provides data on a range of human resource practices relevant to participating agribusinesses over the last twelve months within the U.S. (separate Canadian edition also available).  The new 2017-2018 full report will be released in January.  Data from 101 agribusiness companies provided information to document emerging industry trends.  The range of agribusiness industry groups participating in the online HR Review for the eleventh edition represents twenty-five diverse sectors. The size of companies participating based on annual revenue and number employees ranges from a mix of small, mid-size and large organizations.