Page 29 - Farm labour in the UK
P. 29

Employers also need to consider their own management and leadership skills. According to one respondent:
“There is a lot of unconscious bias in the industry. I think you’ve only got 35% of the industry trained in management skills. That’s not a lot is it?” (Farming rep 4)
Such skills are regarded as essential, not only for the day-to-day running of a business, but also to ensure staff retention.
“We’re a sector of people that have either fallen into farming or grown up into farming, so we haven’t necessarily got the formal education or the management experience and training. And I think that does play a big part in our retention of people in the industry. We don’t manage people properly. So, we don’t keep them. I think it’s beginning to dawn on people that actually they need to become an employer of choice’’ (Farming rep 4)
Developing new management and leadership skills is not only beneficial in terms of staff retention and returns but can also improve the work-life balance and mental health of the farmer.
“Those that say ‘well, we can’t afford to invest in staff training’, are also those that say ‘I can’t get any staff to work in my business’” (Farming rep 4)
All skills development should include health and safety.
➢ AHDB management and leadership courses Accredited programmes, subsidised courses in management and leadership.
Many employers in the industry treat their workers very well. However, unfair or poor treatment is still pervasive across certain sectors. This is reported to be particularly the case on some horticultural holdings.
“They can’t change the nature of the work but they can change how they welcome people, how they treat people with fairness and dignity, how their supervisors talk to people, the standard of accommodation, the social aspect of working there, the sense of valuing people” (Labour expert 1)
With regards to migrant workers in particular, one employer commented how:
“The new farm manager treats them with a fantastic amount of respect with absolutely no difference than if they were British workers, and that is what should be happening” (Farmer 4)
Dignity and respect should be implicit throughout the agricultural workforce, regardless of the type of work or sector. Ideas of workers being deferential and compliant are outdated and some employers with excellent reputations acquire this through involving their staff more directly in the business on a day-to- day level.
“You’ve got to embrace the workforce, make the workforce part of the business, give them ownership. When you can get them understanding the challenges, and understanding why I want to do this and why I want to do that or, you know, ‘what do you think?’, ‘do you think we should do it this way’? By embracing the workforce you get far more out of them than just going out in the morning and saying ‘go plough that field’” (Farmer 1)
Improve recruitment methods
Employers need to update recruitment methods to attract new workers. For some, this has meant
Farm labour in the UK | Accessing the workforce the industry needs Treatment of workers

   27   28   29   30   31