Grow your career on

Advanced Search



Retention Practices in the Agriculture Industry: A Look at Our Survey

By Kristine Penning,


“Retention” has been a buzzword among HR and recruiting professionals over the past year, and for good reason. With record low unemployment rates, the challenge of hiring and retaining top talent has become a priority in order to remain competitive. Responding to this concern, developed and conducted the “Retention Practices Within the Agriculture Industry” survey in summer 2019 to provide a benchmark for current retention efforts as well as to provide insight into what retention tactics are most impactful based on insight from fellow industry HR professionals.


The survey was completed by 92 agricultural employers in an online format. Participants were asked about their concern levels regarding retention, whether or not they measured their retention efforts, their retention practices and tactics, and their focuses for the future.


High Concern
More than 85% of participants stated that they felt “concerned” or “very concerned” about their organization’s employee retention. Nearly 75% of respondents then stated that this concern has grown in the past two years. We then asked participants about which employee group they felt most concerned about retaining. The most concern was focused around retaining hourly and non-exempt employees. This correlates to our next finding about which career types employers were most concerned about retaining: 30.12% said that they were “very concerned” about retaining technical and skilled roles, and 25.30% were “very concerned” about retaining production-level roles.

This concern does not appear to be going away any time soon. Looking ahead to the next two years, more than half (56.63%) thought that their concern over employee retention would increase.


Retention Measurements
Only a little over one third (34.94%) of participants said that they had concrete methods to measure the effectiveness of their retention efforts. The most popular method of measurement for retention, according to those who responded, was exit interviews (85.71%) followed by in-person interviews to review feedback (67.86%).

All survey participants were asked what they felt makes employees stay at an organization. The smaller percentage that measured their retention efforts reported the two most common answers as compensation and their supervisor/manager. Those participants that did not report measuring their efforts ranked supervisor/manager, coworkers/relationships, and company leadership as most important.

Participants were also asked about the effectiveness of their retention tactics. Of those that both measured and did not measure their retention efforts, company stability was the element most cited as being “highly effective” or “effective.” Both groups also reported that they were less effective in the area of promotion opportunities.


Top Retention Tactics
Participants were asked how they motivate their staff to stay challenged and productive in their roles. The most popular response was salary/remuneration (70.51%). Paid holidays and time off are also popular motivators for retention.

Less than half of participants had referral programs in place (46.75%) in which current employees are rewarded for referring new hire leads. Most respondents also reported that they offered counter offers but to varying degrees (75%).

Look for a newsletter article series surrounding more focused results, especially around top retention tactics, from the “Retention Practices Within the Agriculture Industry” in early 2020. You can download and view the full survey report on here.