Having lunch recently with a longtime friend in the technology business who is notoriously nomadic when it comes to employment, we casually debated the plusses and minuses of job flexibility vs. career stability.

Our conversation got me thinking about the longevity and turnover within the precision farming business. The average tenure of a precision farming specialist at a dealership is often cited as about 18 months.

This speaks to the high rate of burnout in the profession, but could also be tied to the tendencies of the millennial workforce, which account for a fair number of precision specialists.

A 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Labor on employee tenure revealed that the median tenure of workers ages 55-64 was 10.4 years, more than three times that of workers 25-34 years old (3.0 years). The report also revealed that 58% of workers ages 60-64 were working for at least 10 years with their current employer, compared with only 12% of those ages 30-34.

Now my perpetually job-hopping friend doesn’t fall into any of these age brackets and isn’t opposed to establishing some long-term roots within an organization. But one of recurring reasons why he’s on the move every few years is because of what he calls “passive promotions”  — or advancement without incentive — from employers.

Adding responsibilities or authority can be a nice acknowledgement of a job well done, but it’s also motivating to know how your efforts are contributing to the overall advancement of the company. As dealers still struggle to figure out how precision farming fits into their business, one thing to keep in mind to keep these employees engaged is a sense of satisfaction.

“Precision farming employees can sometimes be viewed as lone wolves, working on their own without a lot of direction or oversight,” said one attendee at last month’s Precision Farming Dealer Summit in Indianapolis, Ind. “It’s important to keep them connected because they will feel much more like they are part of a team, which can help with retention.”

 Compensation certainly plays its part in keeping quality precision staff. But ultimately, it’s up to dealers to decide how to best balance their monetary investment in specialists with professional fulfillment to ensure they see their positions as careers, not just jobs.


Jack Zemlicka
Managing Editor