Many growers have a strong commitment to being good employers and operating a fair farm business.
During busy times in the season, when there are large numbers of workers on site, a heavy responsibility falls on supervisors and leading hands in the field and pack shed. Selecting the right people to take on these roles, and providing them with adequate support and training, helps ensure your commitment is carried through to every employee.
The Fair Farms Standard sets out the criteria against which farm businesses will be audited and certified. A draft of the Standard is being tested during the pilot phase of the Fair Farms program.
The draft Standard requires that employees with staff management and supervisory roles have clear position descriptions that outline their roles, responsibilities, levels of authority and legal obligations.
When selecting supervisors, growers should look for people who share their commitment to fair and ethical conduct, and to providing a workplace free from mistreatment, bullying or harassment.
Supervisors must have good communications skills and the right personal qualities to encourage optimal performance from workers. They require the necessary skills to appropriately manage poor performance or unacceptable conduct from workers, without resorting to abuse or harsh treatment.
Staff with supervisory roles should respond promptly to concerns raised by workers and know how to apply the dispute resolution process, if needed. Ensure supervisors understand their responsibilities – and also the limits to their authority.
On a practical level, supervisors should contribute to monitoring workplace safety issues and actively manage rest breaks and hydration to avoid fatigue and heat stress amongst workers.
Supervisors must know who are the qualified first aiders on each shift and where to access first aid kits. They should also be familiar with the farm’s emergency procedures and be ready to guide workers appropriately in an emergency situation.
A good supervisor is willing to be accountable and acknowledge their own mistakes. They should also inspire and demand accountability from others.
Making an investment in the people who play leadership and supervisory roles around the farm pays off through a positive and productive workplace.