3 tips for cultivating happy (and productive) farm employees

The capacity to recruit and lead teams of happy fulfilled employees is key to the functioning of farms, especially in the process of scaling up production and/or freeing up some of your time for your other interests.

The key is that happy employees are productive employees. Even more importantly than productivity is the farm atmosphere…. what kind of work environment would you love to be in every day?

Here are 3 tips for building a farm that nurtures and empowers the people working there:

  1. Acknowledgement and Appreciation: It doesn’t take much to simply recognize someone’s contribution and express gratitude. This requires slowing down a little bit since the tendency is to rapidly shift from one task to the next. It’s amazing how impactful a couple kinds words can be! (and an occasional case of beer or popsicles at the end of a hot day of work)
  2. Cultivating a sense of ownership and meaning: For most farm employees, farming is not just a job… it’s a calling. One of the greatest things you can do to nurture this, is to be very clear about your farm’s mission and communicate it regularly with your team. Welcome their input and incorporate elements that they suggest when appropriate. Also, a great way to nurture a sense of meaning is to create opportunities for employees to interact with the farm’s clients who actually eat the food you grow.
  3. Clearly communicate expectations, roles, and responsibilities: Our role as farm owner is to see the full potential in each employee and put them in a role where that full potential can be realised….. and then trust in that person’s capacity and in the rigorousness of the farm systems that we have put in place. In order to do this skillfully, it is important to build in dedicated times into the schedule for communication. A morning meeting at the start of each day is a great place to clearly communicate the goals and task for the day. In addition, it is important to make room for one on one discussion. Sit down at least once during the season for a conversation with each employee, one on one. This is important so as to give the opportunity to the more introverted employees to let you know if anything is up.

As the captain of your farm, you play the leadership role. Even if you are feeling overwhelmed… the staff needs to know that you are a calm and confident leader. We all need to know that the ship is in good hands!

Now the ball’s in your court!

How can you show your crew how much you appreciate their hard work this week?

What action could you take that clearly demonstrates the farm’s purpose and how it fits into the big picture?

How can you create a 20 minute opportunity to sit down and talk with your key employees?

Go make a ruckus!

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