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Ask Julie: How Does "The Great Resignation" Affect Us?

Written by: Sarah Novak   |   April 11, 2022


Labor is top of mind for many of our members and the industry, so we asked three animal food industry experts – all named Julie – for their input on the topic. Julie Zimny is the global human resources leader with Cargill Animal Nutrition; Julie Sexton is the senior vice president and chief human resource officer with Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Julie Coble is the human resources manager with Kent Nutrition. Here is part 1 of 3 of the interview. 

What does “The Great Resignation” mean for our industry right now?  

Coble: It means that we must be creative – not only in attracting new candidates, but in retaining our current employees. Everywhere you turn, you see dollar signs flashing on billboards showing pay rates or banners in front of stores and ads on the television, internet and radio. It only takes your employee having one bad day at work and on their way home they see a sign. The next thing you know, your employee has applied somewhere else, interviewed and is putting in their notice.  

We must make sure our employees are paid fairly, overtime is equally shared, employee relations issues are successfully resolved and we don’t forget that people are our most important asset and treat them as such.   

Sexton: Overall, people are seeing that they have choices. They are feeling the freedom to make a change and it’s easy to find roles that fit professional and personal needs. We’re seeing a mixed impact, depending on the type of work. For our non-manufacturing roles, many already had the option to work remotely – and there’s increased pressure to offer even more of this flexibility. People have experienced a “can-do” shift – I can do this work differently and be successful.  

For our manufacturing roles, the declining interest and willingness to work in a manufacturing setting, with weekends and off-shifts, is a challenge we need to address. How can we make those good-paying jobs attractive? How do we need to think differently? All of this is creating more competition for a smaller talent pool. This means there needs to be a renewed emphasis on talent – both attracting as well as retaining.   

Zimny: The agriculture (and feed) industry faced a limited employee pool even before COVID-19; the pandemic just exacerbated it. We need to adapt to recruit and develop the talent we need for the future of farming. We need to highlight the benefits and opportunities of working in agriculture and the animal nutrition and health industry that may not be readily apparent to those not familiar with it. Photo: Cargill Animal Nutrition team.

In animal nutrition, there are careers around innovation, digitalization, sustainability and the opportunity to help animals and humans live better lives. 

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