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People Management: Make the Most of Your Greatest Asset

 

Following the great Richard Branson’s thought process, Bidwells believe that "people are our greatest asset". This philosophy can be applied to all businesses, so found out how...

From the colossal Virgin empire, to a local tea room employing one member of staff, people remain at the heart of a business. When people are happy and motivated, they become more committed to the objectives, ambition, and vision of the organisation.

Bidwells like to keep this ethos in everything they do, so head on over to the Farm Business Innovation Show with your FREE tickets to find out how. In the meantime, discover more about people management, and the best ways to go about it, right here...

These silhouettes of people in a field emphasise the importance of keeping your employees happy

The Importance of Engaged Employees

Employees are the core of an organisation's operations and, therefore, have a direct impact on the relationship between the business and the entity it serves; another business, or a customer or client. From selling produce in a farm shop, to operating large machinery in a field, the employee has the ability to directly influence the outcome and the bottom line.

Poor customer service could range from a lack of courtesy when serving a customer or to poor operation of the machinery that then damages soil or gates. The end result is that the business' relationship with that customer or client is damaged and, consequently, the reputation of the business may be harmed. I am sure all readers are familiar with how fast information, good or bad, can be passed via word of mouth in the farming community!

Production is also evidently related to employee motivation and satisfaction. It is estimated that, in the U.S., the annual cost of poor management and lost productivity as a result of disengaged employees is between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion, whilst engaged employees are 24 percent more likely to increase sales.

These statistics may appear unrelated to British Farming, however, they are in fact extremely relevant and applicable. There is, without doubt, a clear link between employee satisfaction and productivity, regardless of sector, size or objective. In agriculture, where employees often work alone, without supervision, there's an even greater need for workers to be motivated to ensure they are productive and safe.

How to Improve People Management to Increase Productivity

Improving employee motivation can be a relatively simple feat. Mercer, one of the world's largest HR companies, carried out a study of employees from 21 industries across 44 countries. The study revealed three key factors that employees want from an employer; flexibility, commitment to health and well­being, and working with a purpose.

Flexibility

The days of 9 to 5 working is over, and people now want more flexibility in how and when they work, such as exploring options like working from home and being more flexible over the hours that they do. Clearly, in an industry like agriculture, this is potentially harder to implement. Yet, there are ways it can be done if managers and employers really think about it. This could be allowing employees to leave early for dentist appointments or working around family commitments; very small changes to a business' flexibility will make the employees' lives easier and increase their motivation.

Mindfulness by walking is one of the many ways one can make sure their mental health doesn't deteriorate

Health and Wellbeing

Health and wellbeing was the second factor the Mercer study identified, and is very much linked to flexibility. Whilst some larger organisations have the ability and resources to offer health-care packages, typical farming businesses are unlikely to have this. Nevertheless this does not mean there cannot be improvements made in terms of health and wellbeing.

Simple recognition of an employee not quite "being at their best" and letting them finish early, or managers covering the team during the festive period so they can spend time with family can make all the difference.

Mind, the mental health charity, reports that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. When considering these statistics, and the nature of lone-working in farming, it is evident that there is a need in British farming for employers to be aware and proactive towards supporting employees with mental health. Ultimately, a modern, flexible approach to people management may help facilitate this.

The culture of "there is always something to do" is common on nearly every farm and, whilst this is probably true, there are days when perhaps everyone would benefit from a rest and some time with their family instead of sweeping out a grain shed. What is implemented does not have to be significant, expensive or particularly formal; employees will simply appreciate the recognition and almost certainly be more motivated as a result.

Working With a Purpose

A more modern desire from employees is the need to work with a purpose. People now want to work for a greater good, whether this is for society, the environment, or for the particular business or organisation they are involved in. The same Mercer study revealed that employees who are achieving and enjoying work are three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose.

This can be applied to a farming business, and it may mean managers explaining the wider objectives of the business to employees, even involving them in some of the decision making, such as what features are required on new machinery, or what bull they feel would suit the herd. These may seem small things to employers, because they do this every day, but they could have a considerable impact on the employee.

A happy farmer is an employee that will work hard, and with a purpose

Valuing Your Employees

What is evident is that employees are vital to the success of any business. Therefore, for people to perform well, it is essential that they are managed in a way that fulfils their desires.

Whilst agricultural employment can often be seen as unique from other industries, and requires a certain attitude which can often be the case, generally the same principals can be applied. These changes are, quite often, at a very inexpensive, personal level, costing the business very little but, in fact, benefitting the employee greatly and bringing an abundance of benefits.

For tips on how Bidwells does just this, head on over to the Farm Business Innovation Show with your FREE tickets. Don’t miss out on improving your business in such a small way, that’ll make a huge difference!

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