Retaining Farm Employees

January 1, 2024

Recruitment in agriculture can be a tough game. The reality is that we need skilled workers, and most of the time we need them now. But finding new employees through job postings or contractors is often too expensive and takes too much time. One of the best solutions for farm managers to turn to is to focus on retaining and engaging with previous employees. In this post, we’ll share our best tips and tricks for retaining your farmworkers from season to season!


Practice Good Communication

Communicating with farmworkers can be tough even during the season. It becomes even more challenging as soon as they leave your farm at the end of the season. The best thing you can do is create a culture of good communication. Ask employees to update phone numbers multiple times throughout the year. Most importantly ask your employees how they can best be contacted for work the next season. Be prepared to mail out letters, make calls and send text messages a few weeks before you expect the season to start. If you know you have large groups of workers that travel from out of state, be sure to give ample time for them to travel before they are needed for work. 


PRO TIP: Using Harvust can make communication on the farm much easier. You can send audio translated text messages directly to employees from previous seasons to notify them of hiring dates and start dates.


Keep Thorough Documentation

Be sure your managers are documenting both the good and the bad. If there is a worker that is damaging fruit on Fridays because they are in a hurry to get their weekend started, that would be great information to keep in an employee file. If that employee returns the next season, a conversation can be had before they are hired about expectations for the handling of fruit. Documentation can also help you put together your crews for the next season. Knowing that a certain employee received 3 write ups in a past season can ensure that the employee is not invited back. Harvust makes documentation easy by allowing managers to open an employee file and include notes for each employee.


PRO TIP: You may find that an employee has a speciality skill or has education in an area you weren't first aware of. Notes about these skills, past jobs or licenses could benefit your farm and the employee in the future.   


Incentivise Performance

In other words, give your employees a reason to come back! The job market for farmworkers is very competitive. Continuing to reach skilled and dedicated workers is not always easy, so be sure to incentivise the good work that is done on your farm. Sometimes, something as simple as throwing a thank you party with a small meal and a raffle is remembered from season to season by employees. Want to go a little further? Share thank you notes and reward your best employees publicly. Get your farm manager or CEO to take some time out of their day to make a speech and call attention to the good work done. 


PRO TIP: You should be asking yourself often, “Why should farmworkers want to work here?” When you have the answer, share it with your employees and frequently communicate these reasons with them whenever you have the chance.


Make Hiring as Easy as Possible 

No one likes spending time in the office. This is especially true of farmworkers who are eager to get to work picking money off the tree. This can make the hiring process feel like a burden to many workers. Doing things faster (and more accurately) with an electronic hiring process is a real win-win for both farm managers and farmworkers. For example, by sending documents and trainings directly to your workers' cell phones, you can free up not only the farmworker’s time but also your HR staff time as well. Onboarding on Harvust takes paperwork off your hands and empowers farmworkers to easily complete everything required of them so they can get on with what they’d really like to be doing (making money!).


Using these simple steps you can help your farm retain farm workers from season to season. To learn more about how Harvust makes hiring, training, and communicating with farm employees simple, fast and organized, please visit our website at www.harvust.com. Harvust is 100% purpose-built for farms and farmworkers. There are no apps to download, zero setup fees, and we can get your farm up and running in just a few days!


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Author

Becca Groche

Becca is a seasoned HR professional with over six years of experience in agriculture and adjacent industries. Before joining Harvust, she provided her expertise as a frontline HR representative at a large Washington tree fruit company for nearly three years. Becca has lived the life of Harvust's customers and knows exactly what they need. She brings that insight and emotional intelligence to bear supporting and advising Harvust customers everyday.