Investing time in understanding the needs of seasonal workers and addressing their concerns can boost retention. 

With labour shortages a key concern, it’s vital that growers go the extra mile to look after their teams to encourage retention. 

Here are the top five ways you can improve engagement. 

1. Communication 

HOPS advises all growers to implement a communications policy from the off and to train staff members on it. It’s also advisable for supervisors to keep in contact with workers to check they have settled in properly following an induction and to see if they need help. 

“It’s easy to become complacent about these things when you’re recruiting teams every year,” said HOPS Office Manager Caryn May. “But for a lot of people this could be their first time in the UK, miles away from home and family. Investing time in helping them to settle in will pay dividends later.”

2. Best buddies

One suggestion, as outlined in HOPS’ Little Book of Happiness, is to introduce a ‘buddy system’ where you partner a new worker with an experienced and settled staff member. This can help people to settle and learn harvesting techniques quicker.  

3. Language barriers 

One common problem is language barriers, and HOPS advise having translators to hand when new teams arrive. 

Operations Director Sarah Boparan said: “It’s worth asking at your local college to see if they offer language courses. But more importantly allow more time for training and reassurance.”

4. Managing management

Spend time with your workers out in the field or visiting them during recreational times. It’s less intimidating for someone to approach a manager on neutral ground rather than approaching an office.

Consider creating worker representatives – one per caravan or accommodation block – who are elected and can attend official meetings. 

5. Feedback 

A must for all growers is to invite feedback from the people who work for you so you can understand what’s working (and what itsn’t!) Set up a review early on that’s a one-to-one meeting – and get feedback from their ‘buddy’ too if you have introduced this system. 

Survey your workers too (and make it clear it’s confidential) and consider setting up suggestion boxes, forums and team meetings. 

Always give feedback on any improvements you have made based on the issues raised.