Human Resources

The AgFirst Human Resources division provides support and consultation to Associations on all areas of human resources management. AgFirst’s HR expertise and experience spans the employment cycle continuum, from recruitment to retirement. AgFirst’s Association HR support can be as extensive as providing actual services to simply providing advice and guidance.

Talent Acquisition

AgFirst HR assists Association recruitment efforts by posting Association job openings on a District-wide recruitment website, and providing consultation on recruitment strategies and plans. AgFirst HR can provide specific assistance in the recruitment for key positions within an Association, such as developing salary negotiation recommendations and administering or providing information about several personality and behavioral assessments.

Talent Management

Employee Development

AgFirst’s employee development programs are focused on cultivating staff members who are engaged in their jobs and the success of the company and identifying and preparing current and future leaders. The AgFirst Leadership Academy provides the framework for employee development programs for all levels, from individual contributors to those leading multiple departments or divisions. The Leadership Academy includes hundreds of computer-based, on-demand learning modules designed to allow employees to gain essential skills at their own pace; multiple instructor-led, one day programs; and three different multi-day leadership development programs:

  • Essentials of Leadership: provides critical skills, insights and action planning needed to effectively lead, guide and influence important organizational initiatives.
  • Leading with Impact: building on the principles of Essentials of Leadership, provides managers the tools to influence others, think strategically and utilize collaboration for gaining business results.

Advanced Leadership Program: an executive leadership program custom designed in conjunction with the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

Cornerstone OnDemand/Career Cafe

The AgFirst District utilizes the Cornerstone OnDemand platform, a unified talent management solution internally branded as Career Café, to drive and manage its ongoing learning, performance and succession planning initiatives. Cornerstone’s tools, recognized as a leader in the industry, were implemented in 2009 and were quickly adopted across the District due to their ease of use, automation capabilities, flexibility for configuration, and robust reporting capability. As of 2015, more than 3,600 employees, directors and outside participants utilize the platform to participate in training and manage their ongoing career development.

As system administrators, AgFirst provides assistance and guidance for specific Association tasks, such as assigning training for employees, tracking course attendance and configuring annual performance review and succession planning systems. Cornerstone OnDemand recognized AgFirst at their national conference in 2015 for innovative approaches to using and adopting Cornerstone’s software and services. Today, Associations utilize Career Café for learning management, performance management and succession planning.

Learning Management

The Cornerstone learning platform is a comprehensive solution for helping automate and manage the training function for each participating organization. The learning functionality enables organizations to:

  • Deliver e-Learning experiences.
  • Administer Instructor-Led Training (ILT).
  • Consume learning content on mobile devices.
  • Create and deliver virtual classroom sessions.
  • Manage functional content in a social and collaborative environment.

Performance Management

Cornerstone’s Performance Management tools allow managers to benchmark employee performance and align employee activities with organizational strategy. The performance management functionality enables organizations to:

  • Customize and automate their performance review processes.
  • Develop, manage and track meaningful goals.
  • Provide continuous feedback channels.
  • Identify employee competencies and skill gaps using 180 and 360 feedback.
  • Develop checklists to assess and monitor skills in real time.

Succession Planning

Cornerstone’s Succession Planning tools are utilized to identify skills gaps and build bench strength within an organization. The succession planning functionality enables organizations to:

  • Comprehensively review existing talent within the organization.
  • Identify high potentials within the employee base, depicted on a nine-box grid.
  • Generate and manage a dynamic succession plan for any position.
  • Maintain employee biographies, resumes and career preferences.
  • Create and manage Individual Development Plans (IDP).
  • Identify critical skills and competencies and see where there may be gaps.

Custom Instructional Design Services

AgFirst can develop customized e-learning, instructor-led or blended content to fit the specific needs of Associations. AgFirst maintains a toolbox of the most respected e-learning tools in the industry, including Storyline and the Adobe Creative Suite. These can be delivered through a variety of platforms, including mobile devices.

Employee Relations and HR Policy Guidance

In addition to a variety of useful templates, including employee improvement plans and documentation guidance and recommendations, AgFirst provides information and guidance about employee relations, employment law and performance-related issues and challenges. In addition, on-site training is available on a variety of employment law topics, including diversity and inclusion, harassment, effective performance management, etc.

AgFirst’s Human Resources Handbook, containing employment-related policies and guidance, is provided as a template to Associations for their use as desired. A legal scan and review of the handbook is conducted annually, with updates provided to the Associations. Information sharing includes District HR leader teleconference calls where employment and labor law compliance and collaboration are discussed.

AgFirst also provides a model Human Capital Plan, including diversity and inclusion strategies for Associations to use as needed or as appropriate.

Compensation Administration

AgFirst provides compensation consultation to Associations on general salary administration issues and questions. Services include job evaluations and grade placements, executive compensation analysis, and compensation training for staff, management and directors. AgFirst also conducts an annual District salary study of Association benchmark jobs, publishes an annual compensation trends newsletter and produces Total Rewards statements for Association employees.

Human Resources – Information Systems

AgFirst HR provides support and assistance for all technical aspects of Human Resources administrative services including:

  • Functional and technical support for the Infor/Lawson HRIS, DocuPhase imaging and Hyperion Workforce budgeting systems.
  • Processing of benefits eligibility file fees to benefits vendors and third-party administrators.
  • Creation and support for standard dashboard reports for use by HR representatives.
  • Deployment and maintenance of communication materials on the Infor/Lawson employee dashboard.

Farm Credit Benefits Alliance (FCBA) Administration

FCBA offers a wide variety of benefits in three main areas: health and welfare, retirement plans and other general support. AgFirst HR functions as a service center for FCBA, administering the benefit plans and payroll for more than 3,200 employees in the AgFirst and the Farm Credit Bank of Texas Districts.

AgFirst manages the FCBA active employee benefits, including annual enrollment and AgFirst District FMLA consultation, retiree medical plans, director benefits, and compliance with all plan documents and reporting requirements.

The AgFirst payroll team is responsible for ensuring three main areas of the FCBA payroll process: the accuracy of paychecks, proper deduction accounting and appropriate tax withholding.

Farm Credit University (FCU)

Farm Credit University offers specialized, agriculturally focused training to Farm Credit employees, ag lenders outside of the Farm Credit System and ag producers.

FCU courses are peer-reviewed by leading academics, lenders, members of the Farm Financial Standards Council and instructional design professionals. Most courses are grouped into three program tracks:

  • Leadership Academy – Leadership, executive writing and presentation courses open to Farm Credit employees.
  • Credit Academy – Primarily credit and sales-focused courses open to Farm Credit employees and other ag lenders.
  • Producer Academy – College-level courses that enable farmers, ranchers and other ag producers to hone their management skills and fine-tune their business practices.

FCU also offers to Farm Credit employees the Launch Pad new employee orientation and Ag 101, an overview of American agriculture and the industries and commodities Farm Credit finances.

FCU presents quality educational programs with real-world applications to enable students to apply the skills they learn directly to the opportunities and challenges they encounter every day. Some FCU courses are online, so students can access self-paced content at their convenience. Others are instructor-led or blended, so students are able to exchange ideas and learn from one another.

For more information about FCU and its array of educational programs, visit www.fcuniversity.com.