Oct 10, 2023
EFI shows how becoming an “employer of choice” helps ease labor shortages

Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is showing how workers who work at “employers of choice” family-focused operations can help ease worker shortages.

With back to school underway, employees may be feeling the strain of new schedules and extra expenses for everything from back-to-school supplies to sports equipment and school fees. The National Center for Farmworker Health reports that 43% of U.S. farmworkers have at least one child in the household.

According to Compensation & Benefits Review, providing paid leave and flexibility for workers to take care of families, medical issues and caregiving without making financial trade-offs helps improve retention, productivity and employee participation. With the current labor shortage in agriculture, forward-looking organizations can make workplace retention a priority with family-friendly policies. Such policies also help boost morale, job satisfaction and loyalty while reducing burnout, according to a news release.

While some might consider lost profits when workers use paid time and flexibility, studies show that paid leave brings a high return on investment and many positive effects for the organization and employee. It is also reported that as outside stress on farmworkers decreases, they can place more focus on their work, with improved outcomes for safety and quality, according to the release.

LeAnne Ruzzamenti, EFI’s director of marketing and communications, notes the importance of listening to farmworkers and administrative staff when considering family-friendly policies.

“Employees have different demands and expectations, so working with them to ensure that policies meet their needs will bring organizations the most positive impacts,” she said in the release. “Understanding their challenges is the first step to improving their well-being and your bottom line, and that could be as easy as anonymous surveys.”

EFI Equitable Food Initiative logoBefore another school year goes by, EFI recommends farming operations review their policies to identify more family-friendly opportunities. Creating a flexible and supportive work culture will help farms be recognized by workers as an employer of choice in a tight labor market, according to the release.

EFI has helped form and train worker-management collaborative teams for 30 grower-shipper companies on more than 80 farming operations. Through the EFI certification program, more than 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving, communication and conflict resolution strategies, helping to improve labor and safety for more than 55,000 workers.

Through improving the lives of farmworkers and driving business performance by integrating worker voice and engagement throughout the supply chain, EFI, a multistakeholder organization, brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to create assessment, training and organizational development programs that support continuous improvement and address the industry’s most pressing problems.

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