When it comes to choosing employees for your operation, it’s not as easy as many would think. There are many factors to consider: do you hire full time? Do you hire seasonal? How many people do you keep on board? And then comes the trickiest of them all — how does one determine who is the best choice for the farm team?
Kristjan Hebert of Fairlight, Sask. owns and operates a sizeable farm, with between seven and 12 full-time workers to keep the farm operation and consulting business humming. In addition to staff, Hebert runs the farm with his father, Louis. During the growing season, they add around five seasonal employees to the lineup, especially to tackle harvest.
Together, Hebert and his father use a hiring metric of one full-time person per every 2,500 acres, which equals to about 1.25 hours per acre that they farm.
While hard numbers are one way to look at staffing, Hebert has a very different way of looking at things when it comes to who to hire.
“I don’t necessarily care that they have an agriculture background. We want to know that they fit the values of our farm first,” he explains. “I use a simple little concept called GWC — do they get the role, do they want the role, and do they have the capacity to do it. From there, they get scored on our values in those three items, and then their skillset is more what I am interested in.”
When looking at skillsets, Hebert highlights the importance of not necessarily looking at where the person has worked, but what sorts of transferrable skills they have. If the skills are indeed transferrable, they can be trained to then follow your farms “playbook.”
“We have a couple of individuals that come off the oil patch, and a couple from New Zealand, and my manager came out of the grain handling industry. He was there for 15 years and had a hundred employees under him in a union before he came to manage the farm,” notes Hebert. “I also find they can teach us a lot about what things we can do different as well, to hopefully be better.”