Agricultural research is a significant driving force behind a healthy economy. That's one of the reasons why people who conduct agricultural research work in an intense work environment.
Besides gathering and analyzing data, these professionals constantly learn and monitor new industry developments.
Employers must consider the unique needs of agricultural research staff to ensure smooth operations and higher productivity.
Challenges in Agricultural Research
Agricultural researchers are constantly under pressure. They face various challenges that many employees never encounter. Some of them include the following:
- Complex funding structure – Most labs must continually apply for funding. With agricultural research funding dropping, it's becoming harder to find the money for projects. Without proper financing, agricultural research may take significant time without yielding the desired results.
- Compliance rules – agricultural researchers must comply with industry requirements and adapt to quickly emerging technologies. That puts extra pressure on the staff and interferes with the work process.
- Time issues – research can be time-consuming, especially when funding problems arise. Knowing they are making a difference is the driving force behind a researcher's activity. The absence of results can cause dissatisfaction, frustration, and engagement issues for the entire team.
- Motivation – motivation is one of the main challenges researchers face, especially when they have to focus on administrative problems and deal with burnout.
Agricultural researchers face challenges in finding sufficient time to execute their responsibilities. They must juggle numerous tasks, worry about funding, change their approaches, and deal with administrative issues.
That leads to employee burnout and a low satisfaction rate. Eventually, it becomes harder to meet research goals and retain top talent.
Motivate Staff with Professional Development Opportunities
Motivation is one of the most important drivers behind research. Many agricultural researchers choose their positions to contribute to the cause and find solutions to critical problems. Staying motivated in research is challenging, especially if the employer doesn't provide sufficient support.
Researchers need to feel engaged and supported; otherwise, the quality of their work suffers and impacts the organization's bottom line. Since agricultural research results often take a while to appear, maintaining motivation is a challenge.
Lack of motivation leads to lower engagement rates. Eventually, this affects the research process. According to Gallup, higher motivation can lead to a 14% increase in employee productivity.
One of the best ways to help researchers stay motivated and improve their satisfaction is to provide professional development opportunities. They help your staff feel like you invest in their future while helping improve their productivity and skills.
Professional Development Examples
Agricultural researchers are constantly learning. New technologies coupled with ever-changing compliance requirements keep research teams on their toes. By providing your agricultural research staff with opportunities for professional development, you are making it easy for them to stay in the loop and ensure quality.
Examples of employer-supported development include:
- Reimburse tuition for outside education
- In-house education opportunities
- Sending staff to conferences to learn from other teams
In addition, investing in professional development shows your interest in the employee, boosts engagement, improves satisfaction, and works toward retention.
The key to a high return on this investment is learning what your agricultural research staff needs the most. You can rely on direct feedback from employees to choose the most suitable approach.
Promote Work-Life Balance
The mounting responsibilities of agricultural research staff's daily challenges may affect your team's work-life balance. Researchers often get deeply involved in the work process and fail to get enough rest. Eventually, this leads to burnout.
Maintaining a work-life balance is an integral part of a smooth research process. By helping your employees achieve it, you can affect research quality and results. To promote and support the work-life balance of your employees, you can:
- Allow flexible hours or remote work – In some cases, researchers may be able to conduct some of their work on a personal schedule or remotely.
- Encourage breaks and vacations – not all researchers are willing to take breaks when work is in full swing. It's up to the management to encourage rest and prevent burnout.
- Review each team member's workload – It can be easy to overlook how many administrative tasks researchers face. Review their responsibilities to prevent an overload.
- Lead by example – By demonstrating a solid work-life balance by example, you can encourage your team to follow.
- Ask for feedback – find out what researchers think you can do to help them maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Work-life balance can be different for each employee. Understanding your team's needs can give you valuable insight into what you can do to help.
How a PEO Can Help
Intense lab operations can negatively affect the agricultural research staff's well-being. Burnout and low satisfaction rates lead to high turnover and hinder the research process. By focusing on your employees' needs, you can support them in the lab environment and promote work-life balance.
Taking care of your employees while you need to focus on other HR issues, including payroll, taxes, and health benefits, can be complicated. If you choose to work with a PEO, you can delegate many functions to a team of professionals and gain valuable time to help your employees.