A man and a woman from the back looking over a cattle yard.

Innovative Bonus Structures are Reshaping Agribusiness

It’s becoming painfully obvious that a shortage of workers is one of the biggest challenges facing agribusiness in 2024. Especially as we work towards the goal of becoming a $100 billion industry.

One of the major players in this struggle is turnover. The cost to replace a good employee well outweighs any bonuses or additional pay structures that might be put in place. Agribusinesses recognise this, and many have put in place incentive bonus structures and higher pay brackets to ensure stability in their staffing.

Gary Rodely’s Tathra Oysters at Nelson Lake is one of these agribusinesses. After struggling to hold onto his star employees he came up with an inventive way to incentivise staff and maintain a stable and effective crew.

“Staff would generate a 1 per cent bonus for each milestone, so for a business that turns over a million dollars, the bonus would be paid to staff in the week when the $100,000 milestone is reached,” he explained.

“When $200,000 is reached an additional $2000 is paid in that week, and so on. People could potentially double their wages and, if they’ve got lots of bright ideas, well, you’ve got the potential to triple your wages.”

While the bonuses are capped at 10 per cent, the scheme is already driving innovation for Tathra Oysters.

“We’ve got a couple of people on the bonus structure already, and it’s working fabulously,” he said.

“They’re thinking about the whole place a different way. And they’re not just waiting for instructions, they’re coming up with so many different ways of doing things and improvements.”

Farmers of all kinds are looking towards adopting similar business models, moving away from undefined bonuses to incentive-based bonus structures and higher salary packages.

With climbing regional job vacancies reaching 92,500 in October 2023, this shifting sensibility is set to change the agri-employment landscape.

Added to these bonus structures are other fringe benefits that are often offered to agricultural employees. The majority of management positions on-farm will come with tools of the trade, top-of-the-line work vehicles, property rental, power, internet, and phone bills covered. Here at The Lucas Group, we will often see these being partnered with additional benefits, such as travel allowances, meat allowances and further education plans.

With a plethora of benefits associated with joining an established agribusiness, and new incentive schemes being rolled out across the industry, 2024 is the perfect time to start looking at your newest career move.

Sources: ABC, Regional Australia Institute

Get the latest industry updates

Stay up to date on ag industry news, HR resources and available positions.