Q: One of my coworkers and I have been here for several years and have noticed an interesting trend — few people stay here longer than one to two years, even if they are good employees. Some even go to jobs that pay the same and continue with the same type of work. What can we do to encourage them to stay longer?

A: After doing more than a thousand one-on-one interviews with agricultural employees, I’ve heard a wide range of reasons for employees changing jobs, and some of them are not very logical. 

Some people simply need a change. They get bored of working at the same place or feel that they can find “happiness” someplace else.

We know from employee satisfaction surveys that “having a friend at work” often ranks higher than “financial compensation” for many employees. Companies that help facilitate a positive social atmosphere seem to be better at retaining employees for longer periods.

So, to enhance the social atmosphere where you work, promote activities that bring employees together. Have picnics, lunches and other activities at work.  Schedule a cookout after work when the employees’ families can attend. Perhaps schedule it to coincide with the time that they get off work or when people come to pick them up. Be sure to have the activities at a site where the herd’s biosecurity is not an issue. Doing a community activity together such as cleaning up roadsides, playing softball, sponsoring a needy family during the holidays, or volunteering as a group to work at a food pantry also can help build that camaraderie and a sense of value.

We know that without a personal, valued, social connection to a group, people will move on until they find the relationships they desire. All you can do is try to do your part to enhance those relationships. If you take the lead on this issue, others will follow. Do give it some time to develop and flourish; don’t expect immediate impact. 

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail todon@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.