Farmers often ask “Is employee development a cost or an investment?”

To which, Chuck Schwartau, Extension educator, University of Minnesota, commonly responds,  “Every farm wants that perfect employee who shows up for work early every day, stays late (but doesn’t charge the extra time), does at least one-and-a-half times the work of any other employee, never makes a mistake, and does that all for minimum wage. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of them around — unless you count yourself.”

The point is that you need to invest in employees if you want top performance from them and from your farm. Even employees who come to you with great skills and experience need periodic training, especially for new tasks and procedures or for handling new equipment. Even a refresher course on how familiar procedures are supposed to be done can refresh veteran employees as well.

No one is a perfect sponge who retains every message the first time and never forgets any of the steps involved or the motivation behind it.

“We all know more than we practice, so we need reminding from time to time,” Schwartau says. “Regular training opportunities help your business perform better. It shows you care about improving your employees; it also opens lines of communication that make employees feel more comfortable coming to you with other work-related issues.”