Looking for a Job, Finding the Right Employee

  • James B. Kliebenstein (Iowa State University)
  • Terrance Hurley (University of Minnesota)
  • Peter F. Orazem (Iowa State University)
  • Dale Miller (National Hog Farmer)
  • Steve May (National Hog Farmer)


A survey of pig producers and employees was conducted to document trends in the industry. These surveys have been conducted four times: 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Producers use a number of methods to locate employees and employees likewise use a number of methods to locate employment opportunities. The information job search networks are the dominant strategy used by producer and employees alike. Nearly half of the producers indicated they used word-of-mouth to find employees. About three in five employees also rely on word of mouth. Other methods used most frequently are newspapers, magazines and family referrals. Professional and college placement services were used more commonly by employees than producers. The time it takes, on average, to find an employee was 2.8 weeks in 2005, a reduction from 4.4 weeks a decade earlier (1995).

Producers face the challenge of matching labor needs with the available labor supply. For some needs, labor supply is plentiful and easy to access. Workers can be hired by the day or month. However, as skills become more specialized, the pool of qualified workers becomes scarce. To maintain a consistent supply of quality workers, the producer must invest in training and compensation packages that encourage workers to acquire needed skills, stay with the farm once trained, and remain motivated to work to improve farm profitability.

When labor is available only on a full-time basis, the addition or loss of an employee can have a sizable impact on the operation’s labor supply. For some operations, the labor force can be cut in half or doubled by simply adding or releasing one employee. A producer who ignores employee management issues impacts the operation because worker turnover can severely impair the farm’s productivity.

Employees in smaller operations may require more general skills because their responsibilities are likely to be more diverse from day-to-day. Employees in larger operations will likely have more specialized skills and a more narrow set of responsibilities.

Keywords: ASL R2169

How to Cite:

Kliebenstein, J. B., Hurley, T., Orazem, P. F., Miller, D. & May, S., (2006) “Looking for a Job, Finding the Right Employee”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 3(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-615

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Published on
01 Jan 2006
Peer Reviewed