Benefit of a Break

January 6, 2016 02:20 AM
 
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Paid vacation for employees can boost team morale

The harvest hustle is taxing. As a producer, you might look forward to a winter vacation each year, but do you offer your employees the same break? Research shows employees who take time away from work are more efficient, and the next few months are the perfect time to test it out. 

Fewer than 20% of farm workers are offered paid vacation time, according to an Iowa State University study. Yet offering them paid vacation is simple and effective, says Ann Johanns, an Iowa State Extension program specialist.

“Offering paid time off can really boost not only morale but overall productivity, too,” Johanns says. 

Paid time off is common in the business world. It’s even offered by many fast-food restaurants. Yet Mike Hogan of The Ohio State University says a survey of 171 farm workers by Ohio State Extension found only 4% of full-time employees are offered vacation time. 

Tabulate The Time. Select the proper amount of vacation time after doing some research. A 2004 study by the Society for Human Resources found the average number of vacation days offered to U.S. workers ranges from nine to 21. Don’t panic—clearly, those higher numbers likely are not achievable for most active farm operations. 

Cody Heller, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and dairy consultant, offers all employees who have worked on his farm for at least one year double time on holidays and 10 days of paid vacation. Not all employees take it, and some ask for the cash equivalent, Heller says. He’s glad to oblige. 

At a time when farm labor is becoming competitive, it’s in a producer’s best interest to consider adding paid time away from work as a benefit. Heller says a study conducted by his consulting firm, Central Wisconsin Ag Services, and the University of Wisconsin found that of dairy employees who quit their jobs, 29% cited wages and benefits as the No. 1 reason and 11% cited time off as the main reason for moving on. 

Where To Start. Johanns suggests farmers begin by identifying which employees in your operation will qualify for time off. Next, decide how your time-off program will work. Do employees have a specific number of allotted vacation hours, or are they accrued over time? Are they required to take time off during a specific time of the year? 

She recommends farmers sit down with employees and make a master calendar showing when each worker would like to request time off so plans can be made accordingly. 

“It pays to know in advance to ensure the employee’s responsibilities are taken care of appropriately,” 
she points out. 


Gift Workers With Holiday Time Off

Consider giving your employees paid time off on holidays or increased holiday pay instead of, or in addition to, paid vacation time. There are several holidays U.S. businesses often give employees. 

The top six are: 

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving (and the Friday afterward)
  • Christmas    

 

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