Entrance to AgFirst Farm Credit Bank

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.

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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.

Career Cafe homepage
Group training

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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Farm Credit University (FCU)

Farm Credit University provides lifelong learning and professional development for ag lenders and producers nationwide. This blended training program combines eLearning and instructor-led training primarily on topics related to credit, finance, sales and business planning. Class content is presented in an online format and has been peer-reviewed by leading academics, lenders, members of the Farm Financial Standards Council and instructional design professionals. Courses are self-paced and multi-faceted with an emphasis on local mentoring and coaching. With curricula developed in direct response to Association training needs, FCU positions ag lenders and producers to capitalize on agricultural industry trends for a more successful and fulfilling business, family and personal life.

Training offered includes:

  • Launch Pad. This on-demand Employee Orientation curriculum is designed for new hires and board members. This course will provide an overview of the ag lending industry and Farm Credit’s history and strategic direction. Students also will get a lesson on providing great customer service, demonstrating superb business ethics and communicating Farm Credit’s mission to the public.
  • Lifestyle Lender Course. A blended credit training program that is ideally suited for newer lenders typically making loans of $500,000 or less. This course includes strategic prospecting and data mining, as well as the basics of successful selling. Training also is included on legal documentation and compliance topics, as well as the basics of commercial lending.
  • Commercial Ag Lender Course. This blended credit course is a step up for lenders with one to three years of experience. The curriculum focuses on all facets of credit analysis from cash flows and the balance sheet to loan structuring and financial statement consolidation.
  • Mastering Sales Magnetism Course. A blended sales and marketing course that is designed for experienced lenders who want to take their selling techniques to a new level and be recognized as experts in their field. This course will help lenders deepen and build stronger relationships with their prospects and clients while creating a profitable loan portfolio that is filled with repeat business and referrals.
  • Ag Biz Planner. Designed for the young, beginning, small or minority farmer or rancher, this on-demand business planning course is the first step in building a strategic business plan for their operation. The self-paced course takes a mentor-based approach that allows producers, borrowers and farmers to get feedback from a lender, peer or advisor.

Classes provide an opportunity for Association staff throughout the nation to be trained in a high-tech, yet cost effective manner on pertinent areas of their jobs, including credit and sales. They are given opportunities to network with other lenders and analysts to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

FCU was developed with direct input from District Associations, and therefore is customized to the specific training needs of the Associations. Input is gathered on an ongoing basis through the FCU Board of Visitors, comprised of Association staff.