Increase Farm Performance and Productivity

November 13, 2013 02:59 AM
 
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Increase farm performance and productivity with engaged employees

You wake up every morning thinking about your farm and how to improve it, but do your employees? Are your employees satisfied with their jobs and committed to the goals and future of your business?

A common business concept, employee engagement identifies how much your employees care about their job—a vital measure of your business’ productivity potential. "Employee engagement is directly linked to a farm’s performance," explains Gail Johnson, president of Face to Face Communications and Training Inc. "When people perform at their peak, so will your business."

Lost Productivity. According to a Gallup poll, nearly 70% of all employees think about quitting their job every day. Another study, "What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters," found that only 29% of employees are fully engaged while 26% are disengaged. "These people aren’t necessarily working against you; they just aren’t working for you," says Nicole Price, vice president of training at Cy Wakeman Inc., a leadership consulting and employee training organization.

Employee disengagement is not easy to measure in dollars and cents, Johnson says, but owners see and feel it in lost productivity. Luckily, she says, it’s easy to identify disengaged workers. For instance, these employees might say, "Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it" or "Let’s just wait until they tell us what to do."

That type of attitude doesn’t show drive or enthusiasm, Johnson says. Other common traits include coming in late and leaving early, safety violations and carelessness.

Many employers think that if you offer more perks, employees will be happier. That’s just not true, Price explains.

While it is acceptable to offer job improvements or new benefits, Price says it’s important to get employee buy in.

"Consider creating a list of ways you can improve the work environment, while also creating a list of what employees are willing to do to have these features," Price says. "Employee engagement without accountability is simply entitlement. Personal accountability drives up employee engagement and improves business results."

Increase Job Commitment Human resource experts Gail Johnson and Nicole Price offer up four ways to increase employee engagement for your farm business.

Gauge engagement. The first step to improve employee engagement is to know where you are. Measure your current situation. To do this, simply ask employees how satisfied they are with their jobs. This can be done in an informal conversation or in a written survey.

Know the Source. "There are some people who always complain," Price says. "You know who they are." Survey all of your employees, but she says you should prioritize requests and ideas from the more committed employees.

Collaborate to set goals. Farmers should set goals for their operation and help employees set personal goals, Johnson says. "Each employee needs to know the farm’s mission and how they fit in," she explains. "Employees need to know that they matter, and that usually means to their
immediate supervisor."

Applaud a job well done. In creating a strong employer-employee relationship, feedback is vital. "Employees need to know what they do is important to you, the farm and the community," says Johnson. "In farming, this is easy; you feed the world. Let everyone know how their role contributes. If you don’t know, find out."

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