It’s no secret that it is often a challenge to find reliable labour for the agriculture industry. With the average age of farmers rising and an estimated 23% expected to retire in the next 5 years, it is increasingly difficult to find suitable young people to replace them in the workforce.
Why are younger generations choosing alternate pathways? And how can we encourage people to choose a career in agriculture?
The agricultural sector must find ways to attract, retain, and upskill talent in the industry. The NAWs roadmap believes that in order to reach the $100 billion dollar target for agriculture by 2030 it is essential to have “access to a sufficient, reliable and suitable workforce”.
Solving the labour challenge can sometimes appear an impossible task. But we’ve put together 5 tips on how you can improve team management, increase employee satisfaction and ensure you have the right people working for you. You may note an underlying theme here… agritech can help!
1. Upskill your team and provide opportunities for education
The 2019 future of Australia’s agricultural workforce, report stated;
“The sector’s ability to harness new technologies and improve productivity over the next decade will therefore highly depend on its ability to efficiently develop, transition and expand its workforce to meet the changing skills demands.”
Learning about and adopting technology can seem daunting, however, there are little steps that can be taken to make a big impact. Agritech solutions, on a whole, are created with farmers in mind, resulting in strong, robust and easy to use solutions taking the ‘dread’ out of the upskilling process.By involving other team members in the education process, it can become a team building exercise and invaluable learning process. Opportunities for further learnings and education, not only improve farm productivity and efficiency, but also staff satisfaction. A recent study found that ~25% of workers aged under 40, said learning was the number one thing that made them happy at work. And more satisfied, knowledgeable workers, undoubtedly make better employees overall.
2. Reduce repetitive tasks
There are so many exciting roles and opportunities in the agricultural sector, but we can often get bogged down in the mundane day-to-day tasks. Checking fences, checking water, checking pasture. While essential, these laborious tasks can become repetitive, particularly when not supplemented with other more meaningful and ‘exciting’ jobs. This can lead to worker fatigue and lack of enthusiasm.
Why not cut a bore run down to once or twice a week, or better still, only when you are alerted about a potential fault? Use Farmbot to check your water points 24/7, 356, and let your staff upskill and be involved in a range of other tasks on-farm.
Other examples of agritech solutions that can help reduce repetitive tasks for you and your workers include:
- Swarmfarm Robotics, automated in-paddock spraying, slashing and mowing, reducing time spent in the tractor seat
- Optiweigh, in-paddock livestock weighing solutions that reduces time in the yards and requires no expensive infrastructure, fencing or animal training
- MaiaGrazing, reduces the hours spent in the office and takes the guesswork out of grazing planning, for more accurate farm management.
They say change is as good as a holiday, and by reducing repetitive tasks for your staff, you may find them refreshed and ready to roll.
3. Make safety a priority. Have better visibility of your staff
Employee safety on farms across Australia should be a priority for all producers. 1 in 5 workplace fatalities in Australia occur on farms, with approximately three quarters of these involving vehicles. By reducing unnecessary time driving to and from water points, the risk of accidents are significantly reduced with remote monitoring solutions. Yes, it is still essential to drive in the majority of farming operations, but by having visibility of remote locations you can have peace of mind knowing that everyone is safe.
An example of a technology that allows for this, when phone connectivity is not an option, is the Farmbot Safety Check-in. Be alerted when team members have arrived at a location, or if there is an emergency. By implementing such measures, along with other OH&S plans, workers will feel safer, be comfortable in their role, and in turn be more productive while working on your farm.
4. Keep employees in the loop and well informed
Build comradery and trust in the workplace by keeping everyone in the loop. A recent study by Inspire-Ag identified staff engagement in on-farm activities as a major factor influencing not only profitability but also staff retention;
“Studies have shown significant benefits to the financial success of an organisation where high employee engagement was a considered factor, such as a reduction in staff turnover (65%), safety incidents (48%), and absenteeism (37%). Businesses who focus on employee engagement were 22% more profitable than those that did not.”
Keeping employees engaged and informed, reduces staff turnover and dissatisfaction. It’s not to say everyone has to know every coming and going of the business, but allowing employees access to information that is relevant to their role, helps increase their involvement and commitment to the business.
For example, by allowing workers visibility of water insights, and delegating staff roles in the MyFarmbot platform, teams can better understand management decisions. Such features are also available on platforms such as AgriWebb, that helps delegate roles through their task manager function. By using integration tools such as Pairtree, employees can be upskilled through learning how to use this information effectively to drive day-to-day decisions.
After all, it is a great feeling to be ‘in the know’ and working towards a transparent and understandable end goal.
5. Use tools that can make you more efficient
While all the tips so far have focussed around attracting talent and helping increase worker satisfaction once they are on farm, there is often a lack of workforce, that no amount of HR can change. Lack of labour means producers often need to make do with what resources they have. Luckily, there are a range of tools that allows them to be more productive. Many of these come in the form of agritech solutions. By allowing for greater day to day flexibility, agritech can help increase efficiencies, even when manpower is lacking!
Farmbot is a solution that allows you to do the water run on your phone or computer, over a cup of tea, before the day has begun, freeing up time to get onto other tasks at hand. Another example of an efficiency driving tool is Cibo Labs, which helps you estimate how much pasture biomass you have, whilst reducing in-paddock pasture assessments. These tools not only free up time in your day, but allow you to make better informed decisions on-farm. Increasing productivity and efficiency, even without the extra hands.
By following these simple suggestions you can increase employee satisfaction and engagement. This can help counteract issues of labour attraction and increase worker satisfaction in an already competitive labour sector.