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distance education

GEAPS 580: Hiring and Retaining Good Employees in the Grain Industry


Course Description: This course provides information and advice on how grain companies can improve recruiting, hiring and retaining of good employees. The course discusses grain industry challenges in finding and keeping quality staff. Topics include: documents needed before hiring, generational differences among employees, recruitment, how to conduct an effective interview, employee selection and job offers, on-boarding programs, performance reviews and mentoring and coaching. Students will be given examples and sample checklists to use in creating hiring and orientation processes for their company.

Course Goals: GEAPS 580 aims to enhance management staff's basic knowledge of hiring and retaining employees within the grain handling and processing industries.

Target Audience: This course is designed for grain company and facility managers or supervisors responsible for employee recruitment, hiring and retention; grain companies and facilities without human resources expertise; company or facility managers with limited experience with employee recruitment and retention issues; company or facility managers experiencing challenges with employee recruitment and retention; and grain-company managers that hire for seasonal help.


Barbara Quandt, Director of Human Resources, West Central | Show Bio

Brandi Miller, Distance Education Program Coordinator, Kansas State University | Show Bio

Becky Goranson, Train Lead, Project Journey at The Andersons Inc | Show Bio

Alexis Smith, Organizational Change Manager, The Andersons

Genny Six, Farmer, Chapin, Illinois | Show Bio

The Course of Study

Week 1
Lecture 1 – Raising Awareness: Tackling the "Image" Challenge
This introductory lecture will discuss common challenges the grain industry faces when it tries to find and hire new people and how the challenges can be overcome. The challenges include a general lack of understanding about grain industry jobs and careers, a lack of interest in them and a bias against working in remote locations. Grain companies can address these challenges by getting in front of young people with a positive message and increasing awareness of grain industry careers in their local communities.
Lecturer: Brandi Miller

Lecture 2 – Before You Hire: Having the Right Documents
Before a company hires anyone, it's crucial to have the right documents already assembled. They include: a thorough and accurate job description, an employee handbook and a job orientation packet. This lecture will discuss what each of the documents should include and how to assemble them effectively. Because of its importance, the lecture will emphasize creation of a good job description.
Lecturer: Barbara Quandt

Week 2
Lecture 3 – Effective Recruiting
This lecture will discuss how grain companies might consider directly recruiting people they need. It will help companies with the key to recruiting success, knowing what the steps are in the recruiting process and the three questions to answer before starting the recruiting process. It will cover determining precisely who to target in recruitment efforts, how to select the right advertising media for your target, potential benefits of participating in job fairs and what to expect, working with employment agencies and recruiters – and how to select them.
Lecturer: Barbara Quandt

Lecture 4 – How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview
This lecture will take a hard look at the interview process, a key element in identifying and selecting the right people – people who are qualified and motivated and who will more likely stick around for the long term. Students will learn about the impact of behavior in an interview, questions to ask applicants during the interview, how to review resumes and how to impact hiring decisions from a business and legal standpoint.
Lecturer: Barbara Quandt

Week 3
Lecture 5 – Selecting the Right People and Making the Right Offers
You've advertised the job, gathered the resumés and conducted the interviews, but the process doesn't end there. To get the right people on board, you need to know how to make final selections, make competitive job offers and how to hold the candidate's interest while they transition into the job. Defections can occur during this on-boarding phase, but with knowledge, preparation, a competitive compensation package and some personal attention, they are preventable. Students will learn what characteristics should be considered and how a candidate should be evaluated, how to proceed with the interview process, how to handle references and background information and how to write an offer letter.
Lecturer: Alexis Smith

Lecture 6 – On-Boarding and Orientation
Is your company regarded as honorable, progressive, fair, caring, stable, fun and successful? If it is, people are going to want to work there – and stay there. In fact, actively marketing your company's reputation is a key component of the on-boarding process. This lecture will cover simple but effective on-boarding strategies, as well as new employee orientation. What do you do with the new hire on Day 1? Day 30? This lecture will give an example of an orientation checklist to guide students in making their own on-boarding process.
Lecturer: Becky Goranson

Week 4
Lecture 7 – Key Factors in Job Satisfaction
It's no secret that employees value certain things about their jobs more than other things, and retention often depends on knowing precisely which is which. This lecture will cover the factors that are most likely to lead to employee satisfaction and longevity, and what factors cause dissatisfaction and rapid turnover. Money talks, but not as loudly as many people seem to think. Wage and benefit packages are usually not employees' main concerns. Instead, employees tend to place more value on being able to balance the demands of their jobs with demands and interests of their personal lives.
Lecturer: Genny Six

Lecture 8 – Blending the Generations at Work
From the Baby Boomers to the Millennials, each generation brings a different set of skills, attitudes and expectations to the workplace. This lecture will discuss those differences and how grain companies can manage and accommodate each one effectively. The lecture will illustrate each generation's contributions, what to expect from and ways to motivate each generation, how to be fair and effective to all, the advantages of blending Millennials and Boomers and how to prepare younger team members to step up.
Lecturer: Genny Six

Week 5
Lecture 9 – Conducting an Effective Performance Review
Performance reviews relate to retention. If an employee is doing well and you want to keep him on board, his good work should be acknowledged. Of course, substandard work also requires attention. In both cases, a performance review is an appropriate way to start the formal recognition process. This lecture will discuss the importance of performance reviews, what they should include and how to do them well. It will also discuss how to take actions that performance reviews often require.
Lecturer: Becky Goranson

Lecture 10 – Coaching for Retention
Failing to address employees' problems on the job can lead to trouble. The employee may feel dissatisfied and want to quit. Depending on the problem, he may have to be fired. In many cases, it's often better (and more economical) for both company and employee to talk about the issues and get them resolved before they lead to a departure – voluntary or forced. This lecture will discuss how company mentors and coaches can be useful in the process and help a company avoid the costs of replacing employees. Coaches can also help companies deal with issues such as succession planning.
Lecturer: Genny Six