May 2019 | Fruit & Vegetable News Magazine

Workers are often considered the biggest cost to a grower, but you can also look at them as your biggest asset. This is why the Fair Farms Standard advocates for businesses to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that: 

  • Workers understand their performance and behavioural requirements. 
  • Poor performance and behavioural issues are managed appropriately. 

Having effective policies and procedures in place will maximise your worker performance and efficiency, which adds directly to your bottom line.  

So how to do you manage performance? Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, as we all know what works for full-time farm hands might not necessarily work very well for a seasonal backpacker or short-term picker sent by a labour hire contractor. However, applying the following principles will make a notable difference:  

Step One – Plan 

Before you create a performance management policy, look at your business goals for the year ahead and think about what you need out of your workforce to meet your goals. Then, you can identify what good performance and poor performance looks like in your business. Remember to consider how you should manage performance for the different types of workers you have (for example ongoing chats with short term backpackers, planned meetings at the end of season with full-time and regular casuals, or regular one-to-one sessions with your key managers and supervisory staff). 

Step Two – Document 

Now that you have an understanding of your business goals, your workforce and their needs for performance management, you can put it all into a policy document. The policy should outline what you expect of your workers, how you’re going to manage their performance and the process of managing poor performance.  

Step Three – Implement 

To reap the benefits of the performance management process, the most important step is to implement the policy. To ensue you get the most out of your workers performance: 

  • Include the policy in your induction process. 
  • Have regular conversations with your workers about their performance, provide feedback, both when they underperform and when they’re doing a great job. 
  • Offer support. If you have identified an issue, discuss with the worker how you can help them improve. 

It is important to remember that performance management is a two-way process. Giving workers a voice will help them stay engaged and perform to the best of their ability. 

Fair Farms will offer tailored training modules to growers for performance management and other subjects covered by the Fair Farms Standard.