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NHF-NPB-Employees on sow farm-0.jpg National Pork Board

Making pig farms an irresistible place to work

During the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, Jon Hoek and Valerie Duttlinger shared the results from the study, showing more often employee performance is linked to culture and job satisfaction.

A lack of qualified labor continues to be one of the top issues that plagues pork production systems across the United States. Despite having various books, trainings and information at the industry’s disposal, companies continue to struggle with hiring and retaining quality labor on farms. As Jon Hoek, CEO of Summit Precision Production, points out the problem isn’t new, referencing Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.”

“Those three signs that drive a lot of turnover are measurement, irrelevance and anonymity,” Hoek says. “We all know this intuitively. We all deal with it every day. So why is it so hard to do?”

To define what makes some pig farms an irresistable place to work over others, Summit Precision Production and Swine Management Services recently collaborated on a Labor Intelligence study. The study consisted of 12 farms from companies that represent 5% of the U.S. sow herd. A total of 103 team members completed a variety of assessments that included general mental ability testing, job interests, personality traits, job satisfaction and employee engagement. Separately, SMS conducted a survey with clients who are part of the Farm Analysis program that asked questions about labor topics along with production and facility-related questions.

During the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, Hoek and Valerie Duttlinger, production analyst for SMS, shared the results from the study, showing more often employee performance is linked to culture and job satisfaction, rather than pay and experience. National Hog Farmer had the opportunity to catch up with the team after their presentation to highlight some of their key findings and to find out what’s next in this area of research.


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