A Little Kindness Has a Big Impact on Employees [Opinion]
When I visited Tanimura & Antle at its Salinas, CA, headquarters last August, it was clear employees there matter.
Of all the big-ticket item benefits they offer, their involvement in “Labor of Love,” a program developed by the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, was the most personal and probably had the biggest impact on how the crew felt about Tanimura & Antle.
The “Labor of Love” program began as a grassroots program to show gratitude to those who work in agriculture. Organizers surprise crews with meals and gifts in the field, and spotlight individual workers so the general public and growers alike can appreciate what they do for the industry.
Things like benefits, wages, and housing determine if a worker is willing to even consider working for you. But how they are treated once they sign on will determine if they will stick with you or not.
Everyone Wants to Be Treated with Respect
Take time to think about your crews’ experience working for you. Consider the physically demanding nature of their jobs; or think of how any hostility they face off the farm affects their pride.
If you find a way to express your appreciation and respect for what they do, you may be surprised at how far that will take you.
I know a grower who recruits H-2A employees from the same village in Mexico every year. The operation hosts a big barbecue in the town’s center each year as a thank you.
That annual party is pretty powerful. For one, past and future crews are on their own turf and get to socialize with their bosses and their families together. In turn, the grower gains a better understanding of how his crews live.
Another grower I’ve spoken to does something much less extravagant. She writes a thank you note to each worker at the end of each season and invites them to return in spring. Then she reaches out at least two more times before the season begins: She sends Christmas cards, and then lets them know when she thinks the season will begin. Her crews tell her almost no other growers take the time to write to them.
Whether you start your own “Labor of Love” program, or write thank yous, never underestimate how powerful showing respect to your crews can be.
Oh, One More Thing…
During my visit with Tanimura & Antle, I took a lot of photos, and not all of them could fit into our two articles in this issue. Here are three more you may enjoy.
1. Tanimura & Antle’s headquarters is in a California ranch building, surrounded by palms, and miles of vegetable fields.
2. The lounge is both luxurious and casual, a perfect place to host visitors and company parties.
3. The baseball diamond, built for its work force, is a decent size, challenging talented sluggers to hit it out of the park.