"His son was on the varsity football team and he was allowed to leave for every Friday game -- no questions asked, even during harvest time."
That's the response I got when I asked a new client what his culture was like at his farm. He said he valued his team and their family. Then he went in to more detail and shared how he supported his employee leaving during harvest to be there for his son.
What's your reaction to this gesture? Most often what I hear is, there is no time off during harvest, and heaven forbid that someone's wife has a baby during harvest! Gee, didn't they plan correctly?
We often talk about farms embracing the family-owned culture, but when it comes to putting that in practice, a few of us still struggle. We live and breathe for the farm, shouldn't all the employees?
Well, in reality, we live and breathe for families. That's usually the greatest shared value, no matter if you own - or work - at the farm.
When I look at my list of clients and see who has been the most successful, grown the most, or has the highest profit margins, they all have one thing in common: the value they place on their team.
Those all-star farms hire top quality candidates and they not only value their work, but show them that the employer-employee relationship is mutual. Their employees know that their employer will back them up and support them as best as they can. In return those employees give their employers above and beyond performance and loyalty.
How far do some of the farms go to show their employees gratitude? I have one client that built a gym available for all employees and their families to use for any occasion. I have another client that purchases lunch every day for their team as a perk.
Related: Why do I need to know my costs?
One could argue that is too extreme, it's unnecessary, but I look at how progressive their operations are and how much they have grown in the past decade. It's not extreme, it's brilliant. It's the perfect strategy. Take care of what will impact your operation the most and in today's farming, it's your people.
The opinions of Lori Culler are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.