Human Resource Trends for Canadian Agribusiness



More than 80% of Canadian agribusiness companies said salaries increased during the last 12 months according to the 2020-2021 Canadian Agribusiness HR Review. Over the next two years, 40% of agribusiness companies believe their workforce size will increase, while 56% thought it will stay the same. Participants anticipate that the increase will be largely from growth strategy (68%) and natural growth (50%). As employers look for ways to grow their business and fill open positions, compensation, recruitment, and retention will be key.     

The annual Agribusiness HR Review survey, conducted by, highlights various strategies used in both large and small ag businesses alike to win talent. The Agribusiness HR Review provides a range of human resource practices relevant to participating agribusinesses over the last 12 months.  Equipment, manufacturing, and technical companies comprised 13% of the participants.


Competition for talent remains as the top challenge for human resource professionals, according to 45% of ag companies.  Companies report they compete for talent by providing a positive work culture (73%), safe and healthy work environment (63%), better benefits (38%), higher compensation, and flexible hours (both 30%). Employee retention efforts are also on center stage as 42% of ag organizations within the survey will focus on retention efforts as part of their talent strategy in 2021.

Most survey respondents continue to find employee referrals and networks the most effective means of attracting prospective applicants to their organization (70%). The use of general job boards and industry specific job boards followed referrals (i.e. As expected, the practice of using social media continues to be an effective method for recruitment efforts in Canada, as reported by 63%. The most utilized social media sites for recruiting were Facebook (72%), followed by LinkedIn (70%). Over 30% of agribusiness companies plan to do more graduate recruitment in the next 1 to 5 years. Career progression/succession planning and an increased competition for talent largely drove this push for new graduate hiring. To attract new graduates, agribusiness companies are using college/university recruitment, student work experiences, formal internship programs and agricultural advocacy/ education outreach.  

As some positions are more difficult to fill than others, survey respondents noted sales staff were the most difficult level of role to recruit (42%) as well as hourly staff (34%). Among the types of roles that were listed as most difficult to recruit, sales roles were once again listed as the most difficult.  As a bright spot, sales roles were also noted as the top area expected to be filled by new graduates.


Overall survey participants, as well as those within the equipment sector, showed they are paying close attention to compensation. Participating in a market study is one method participants use to remain close to market trends. More than half of the survey participants had performed a compensation market study within the last two years; 37% of those had completed the review within the past twelve months. Employees within agriculture typically saw salary increases between 2.1% to 2.5% in the last year. In addition, 72% of Canadian ag companies said some or all staff are likely to see increases in the coming year, down slightly from 84% in 2019. Employers reported they did not change their salary administration due to COVID-19, according to 84%. To motivate employees to stay productive and challenged in their role, employers within the equipment sector primarily used bonus incentives (71%), followed by training and development (54%).

Ag employers will need to continue to engage and motivate employees through a variety of ways including compensation, benefits, training and development, promotion, flexibility and beyond to retain top performers. 

Human resource managers and business leaders from 86 agriculture companies participated in’s fourteenth edition Canadian Agribusiness HR Review.   

Want to know more about what other ag companies are doing to engage, retain and recruit? Find out in the full Agribusiness HR Review report: 

  • Salaries and salary reviews
  • Performance reward systems
  • Workforce development
  • Training and development programs
  • Employee attrition  
  • Flexible staffing
  • Bonus and incentive schemes
  • Recruitment practices

Download your free copy of the full report by visiting the Market Research page at A separate U.S. edition is also available.     

Article Written By Rachael Powell

Rachael Powell, Data Analyst, has been with for four years and has over 12 years of human resources experience.  Rachael is a certified compensation professional (CCP) and focuses on data analysis within the Compensation Benchmark Review.  In her current role, she is responsible for researching and benchmarking compensation practices throughout the agriculture industry. In addition, she works with the Agribusiness HR Review to compile and identify the ever-changing HR trends within the ag industry.



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