By Christa Myers
Hiring and maintaining staff isn’t just a horse-world problem.
Right now it’s felt among all industries in North America.
This has been a recurring conversation I’ve had with bookkeeping and consultant clients lately.
Employers can’t find good employees.
Employees can’t find good employers.
Every day, I am talking to equestrian entrepreneurs. They tell me the things that aren’t working in their business.
They can’t pay staff more because their profit simply doesn’t support it.
Staff unexpectedly quit.. without notice.
Employers find themselves saying the same tasks need to be done; every day.
Where did the workers go? The workers who show up on time and get to work without being told. That complete tasks with integrity.
The horse world used to be filled with people who would work from sunrise to sunset for little to no-pay. As a teenager and young adult, I was one of those people. If I wasn’t at school; I was either at my part-time job or at the barn working off-board and lessons.
Workers aren’t willing to sacrifice the majority of their life so they can work in the horse world.
They aren’t willing to run themselves into the dirt for someone else’s dream.
Instead of pointing fingers at the employees or the employers; we need to be willing to have conversations without ego. Employers aren’t withholding increased wages because they’re greedy, it’s normally because they can’t afford it. Employees aren’t always lacking work ethic, they are burnt out and feel unvalued.
Horse people are determined. If we continue to open the dialogue and are willing to contribute and listen; solutions can be found.
As both a bookkeeper and business analyst, I do have suggestions to get the brainwaves moving. These are finalized and they aren’t a guarantee to solve the entire problem but they are a starting point.
If you’re hiring an employee without a contract, neither part is being set up for success.
Compared to other industries, the horse industry has always been behind the times. Employees are still often paid under the table. It’s no wonder that employment contracts are normally non-existent.
Employment contracts communicate the expectations to the worker. It also displays that the employer has a structure for its employees. An employment contract also covers the employers rear;
Communicate to your employees the process by which they will receive their wages. A consistent and streamlined payroll process brings security to your employees.
They don’t have to wonder when/if they are being paid for their efforts.
This should be outlined in the employment contract. There is nothing worse than running payroll for a company only to have a straggler message a week later that they are just now being told about payroll and are submitting their hours.
Paying employees under the table does not help your business or your employees.
As employers, you want employees who are invested in your business.
You’re going to have to invest in your employees too.
Their dreams matter too. If an employee feels valued and supported, their work will reflect that, normally.
If you cannot pay your employees more per hour look into other ways you can support them.
When in doubt; a small gesture such as new brooms will not go unnoticed. Proper equipment in working order makes the job less strenuous.
These are only three examples of areas of improvement employers can make to bring the workers out of hiding. The workers are hiding in other industries, where they’d leave to be around horses more if the benefits outweighed the cost. Unstructured businesses cannot expect structured staff. Consistent and clear communication throughout the business needs to be a priority.
The horse industry is at a crossroad.
Where employers are hiring and equestrians are seeking jobs.
A place where employees need to be paid more and barns aren’t making enough to pay the bills nevertheless pay more in wages.
No one wins here, especially not the horses. The industry needs us to halt the hobbyist approach to create stable and profitable businesses. The kind that support our equestrian entrepreneurs and industry.
If you’re willing to be apart of the shift, equestrian entrepreneur (www.Equestrianentrepreneur.com ) will be continuing this conversation.