Recruitment: What young ag recruits want in their careers

Beef Central, 16/02/2024

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MANY companies engaged somewhere along the Australian beef supply chain will look at putting-on fresh and young talent as part of their 2024 recruitment strategies, to allow newcomers to learn the ropes from experienced co-workers and help build core experience as part of a sustainable business.

It will be these workers that form the basis for the future, so it is important to understand what makes them click and tick.

The youngest generation of workers have a great deal to offer any employer. Not only are they more connected with the world – giving them key knowledge that many businesses will benefit from leveraging – they are proving to be ambitious and loyal.

With a desire to learn, and a can-do attitude, young workers, particularly those starting their careers are valuable and determined members of Australia’s beef industry.

There are a number of key characteristics businesses should consider when it comes to hiring ‘millennials’ (the millennial generation is generally regarded as including birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s).

Those characteristics are identified in market research by PwC which revealed:

Work-life balance is crucial

It is perhaps a sign of a generation that struggles to leave their work behind that they consider their work-life ratios to be a hot topic. Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of millennials say work demands put a strain on their out-of-work lives.

Many careers require employees to give a lot of their personal time to their jobs and this is no exception for the beef industry. With a large number of employment opportunities in the industry located in more remote rural or regional areas, workers may more than likely be required to spend longer periods of time in a work environment out on a cattle station or in the feedlot or processing facility.

Employers can benefit by approaching this matter and finding ways to create a more balanced work-life situation to boost engagement and hold-on to dedicated workers. One way to do this is introducing flexibility into the business.

Flexibility high on wish list

While the beef industry is one in which production supply and demand can fluctuate, one way support can be introduced into businesses is offering some flexibility in working hours.  While this would obviously be offered at appropriate times and circumstances, giving employees the option to finish up early or work certain hours per day can be beneficial in retaining and engaging staff.

Two-thirds of millennials said some flexibility in their working hours, to give them a greater balance between their work and home lives, was of significance to them, the PwC research found.

The importance of this to the younger generation should not be underestimated. In fact, 15pc of male employees and 21pc of females said they would pass-up a pay rise or slow down their promotion prospects in return for working more flexible hours.

Team players and enterprising

In the PwC study, millennials expressed a desire for a “strong cohesive, team-oriented culture at work”.

Rewards are particularly useful for inspiring this younger group of workers, with 41pc saying they favoured monthly recognition for their hard work.

According to this study, these younger workers also seek more duties and are willing to pay back an employer’s placement of trust by staying at a company for longer.

Millennials who are given more responsibilities stay with their company for an average of 7.4 years, compared with 6.3 years for those who were not entrusted in such a way.

This also helps to dispel the myth that millennials are job-hoppers. Shouting workers a lunch at the local pub for instance, is one way in which managers and business owners might recognise a job well done.

If workers are yearning to learn, this is a positive sign and by assigning greater responsibilities, having them shadow a manager or offer the opportunity to undertake training to further develop, are ways in which young staff will stay engaged and motivated to grow.










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  1. Chris Howie, 17/02/2024

    I suggest this is a very broad brush approach. Especially when we look at the Livestock industry. Many tasks are not flexible and the hours don’t normally run to the beat of the social lives of the employees.
    However it is proven that if a new employee has the role explained before hire, has a review at 2 and 4 months as well as operationally based external training the retention rate increases dramatically. After 40 years I have yet to see PwC in a set of sale yards or out at 5.00am loading a truck. Some need to remember that lifestyle forms a great part of job satisfaction for many of us in the Livestock industry.

    • Beef Central, 08/03/2024

      Point taken, Chris.
      However in the article’s defence, Beef Central’s recruitment section is not just targeted at those working in extensive cattle production. It covers many others forms of work along the supply chain, from meat processing to lotfeeding (some would argue that the work cycle in feedlots is more akin to the dairy industry, than it is to beef), and office-bound positions like meat trading. Sometimes it’s hard to make the weekly recruitment editorial a perfect fit for all industry segments. As an illustration of this, just take a look at the breadth of jobs represented in our weekly recruitment listings. Editor

    • Simon Cheatham, 20/02/2024

      Well said Chris!

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