Why do I want to work for you? An Analysis of Job Satisfaction, Laborer Retention, and Recruitment in the Cattle Feeding Industry


May 2023

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The Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) region is the most productive beef cattle region in the United States (TCFA, 2023). Productivity and efficiency are two areas that work hand in hand and employees drive both. To identify areas of growth for the beef cattle industry, assessing concerns of those who hold the future of the industry in their hands, the laborers, is crucial. Along with the challenge of a tightened labor force, the concentration of feedyards in this region poses a unique competition between yards to hire and retain valuable employees. A thorough understanding of laborers' perceptions is imperative to the industry and its' leaders. The primary objective of this study was to identify key themes of feedyard laborers' viewpoints regarding their overall job satisfaction and perceived obstacles of retention and recruitment. Secondary objectives were to observe theme frequencies across feedyard departments and determine if differences in laborers’ perspectives differed between feedyard capacity groups. This study builds upon previous research (Robinson, 2019), which provided benchmark data to gain an understanding of demographics, employee satisfaction, and employee attitudes and opinions. The survey instrument was designed and mailed in January 2019 to 685 laborers employed at 101 feedyards in the TCFA region (Robinson, 2019). Open-ended responses provided personal and accurate portrayals of the respondents' attitudes and opinions. Nine open-ended question written narratives from 146 laborers were analyzed in this study, which employed a phenomenological qualitative approach and coded responses. Coding included identifying patterns of terminology or phrases and allocating a code to the individual responses. Codes were grouped into themes and organized in a codebook to bring summarization. Results revealed the most common themes to be Compensation, Work-Life Balance, Psychological Income, and Work Conditions. Frequencies of themes were examined across feedyard departments, and differences in laborer perceptions between feedyard capacity groups were analyzed using chi square tests. Results indicated that themes of laborer perspectives differed between feedyard capacity groups.



Economics, Agricultural


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