Attracting Millennials to Agriculture

When most Millennials hear agriculture, they might conjure images of inherited family farms, endless cornfields, grazing cows, and a dinky metal windmill here and there. This image, while perhaps picturesque, doesn’t do you any favors with attracting young, aspirational recruits to work by your side. The fact of the matter is this isn’t an accurate representation of the industry. Agriculture has an image problem.

The average age of farmers has been consistently increasing since the ’80s, less than 9% of Millennials consider careers in agriculture, and more than 20,000 careers in food and agriculture will go unfilled each year. Generational shifts are afoot, and it’s important to assess your current strategy for recruiting Millennial employees. It’s up to you to take control of your industry’s narrative; paint the picture and tell the true story of agriculture, because there’s a lot that can feed into the typical Millennial traits and values. Consider the following while crafting a more appealing recruiting effort for your next generation of employees.

Show the STEM

There’s been a huge push for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education over the past decade. Now those students are graduated and looking for related jobs. While the stereotypical rural, hard farm living does have its place in agriculture, so does STEM. Dedicated scientists work around the clock to research and improve livestock nutrition and management, reproductive physiology, and health & disease. Plant scientists transformed a tobacco plant into an Ebola vaccine. Engineers designed robotic milking systems for cows that improve efficiency and quality of life for the cow. And don’t forget the energy conservation side of livestock production. There are countless STEM opportunities in your field—advertise them, and use social media as your megaphone. Shining a spotlight on the STEM face of agriculture that’s omitted from the dominating stereotypes will show the innovative, science-minded Millennials that they have a place within your organization. Plus, you’ll be putting a great foot forward with the next generation, who’s already 23 years old.

Show the Purpose

Every business has a purpose, and every generation has wanted their work to be meaningful. The difference with Millennials is that they want it sooner. They want to be reminded of the difference they’re making on a more regular basis. You know that what you do is important, but are you really telling that story? What messages are you putting out on your website or on social media? The companies that do a good job with attracting and retaining Millennials are connecting the dots for them and showing the purpose behind the work. Cargill declares they’re committed to helping people thrive and nourishing the world. The University of Minnesota aims to answer the world’s biggest questions in their fields, greenhouses, and laboratories. Highlight your organization’s mission and goals on your website, in your marketing materials, and in your interactions with prospective applicants.

Show Your Values

Unfortunately, by working in agriculture today, you’re climbing a PR battle. There are negative perceptions and even a lot of confusion around your industry. It’s up to you to take control of the narrative of your work. Your company culture and values factor into Millennials’ decisions on whether they want to work for you or not. Use this as an opportunity to brandish all the great things you’re doing. Show them your philanthropy and your innovations. Prove that your company values these positive impacts. Strive to provide information and educate, and align this openness with your brand. It’s easier for Millennials to invest in and engage with a company they feel aligns with their own values.

With Millennials making up a majority of the US labor force, it’s necessary to expand your recruiting efforts to apply to this cohort. Being clear and transparent about STEM, purpose, and values that play a crucial part in your everyday work is key. If you’d like help assessing how Millennial-relevant your recruiting and retention strategies are, give us a ring or shoot us an email—we’re happy to help.

See the original version of this article at Hendrix Genetics.