No matter what the industry is, employees play an essential role in a business. Hiring and employee retention are two aspects that managers and owners must take seriously. Not only are the employees working to help keep the business running, but they also interact with your paying customers, meaning they have an influence on the success of the business.

The 2024 Farm Labor Dashboard online workshop series, led by Beth Holtzman, was created to “help farm operators and managers build knowledge and skills they need to successfully recruit and manage the right employees for their farm.” Seth Wilner and Jesse Wright from UNH Cooperative Extension helped lead a discussion in one of the workshop segments in early February.

The process of hiring depends on your farm’s values and needs. The entire team of employees needs to understand the values of the farm in order to achieve a common goal. Farm values

“really influence the culture of the farm” and “have ripple effects … on hiring, on training and retaining,” explained Wilner.

Values can include time management, satisfied customers, good internal communication and prioritizing mental and physical health.

Focusing on these values will allow you to determine if you should be hiring on your farm, what jobs need to be hired, what kind of person you are looking to hire and what interview questions to ask.

Hiring & retention: Tips for a successful team

For example, if your farm is focusing on decreasing milking time to increase efficiency, you may want to hire another milker, and specifically ask in the interview about their milking experience.

In a horticultural setting, is the new person familiar with good transplanting techniques? Or how to monitor moisture levels to water properly?

The hiring process is a key factor in creating a successful business. A key goal with this process is to “create an environment that people want to stay [in],” Wilner said. Overall, before you consider hiring new employees:

  1. Determine your farm’s values and goals.
  2. Work on retention of your current staff. What do they think is missing?
  3. See where you need to hire, and for what positions. Make sure the positions and responsibilities are clear in the job description.
  4. Determine what kind of worker you are looking for. Do you need someone that’s good with time management? Efficiency? Organization? The ability to lift 30 pounds? Experience? Full-time or part-time?
  5. Prepare interview questions to lead you to the right person.
  6. Focus on retention, retention, retention!

For more information, visit The next sessions in the series, “The Art of Negotiation,” are scheduled for March 5 and March 7. Sign up at

by Kelsi Devolve