Seasonal shortages illustrates need to future proof existing workforce
The long hot summer has had a less favourable impact on the UK’s farming sector with reports of crops being ruined as a result of the UK heatwave.
But there still remains considerable harvesting and for growers there remains a more pressing and long-term issue for the sector, the dramatic fall in EU seasonal workers.
This isn’t a new issue. The number of EU residents shifting back across the channel has drastically increased, while few are feeling encouraged to come here as Brexit uncertainty continues.
But alarm bells are beginning to ring across the countryside with Sky News reporting that the National Farmers Union (NFU) believes the shortfall in season workers is 30% – or 25,000 workers.
Farmers have traditionally relied on overseas workers, especially as the work lacks appeal to UK workers, who number less than one percent. Now, Eastern Europeans are shunning the UK for other parts of Europe.
Figures show that the industry relies in 85,000 seasonal workers and the shortfall is expected to have a serious knock on to food processing plants, supermarkets and restaurants.
It is evident that there are going to be repercussions for the entire supply chain, particularly in terms of employment both now and in the future. So, what measures can businesses take to overcome these shortages?
One of the solutions is technology. I have written before on how various elements of technology – particularly automation and robots – are making their presence felt. I recently discussed the rise of robots in picking strawberries, well more robots may well be needed to pick other crops in the future.
Technology will not only ease the burden, but it will also take away the mundane roles. So, businesses have another task to ensure staff shortages are not impacted further – they need to ‘future proof’ their existing workforce.
What do I mean by ‘future proof’? Well, look at your staff and your needs going forward and assess how you can minimise any future shortfall or disruption.
Simple steps can be taken and employers – be that a farmer or a HR director – should start to put the necessary processes in place as these are uncertain times and employees, non-seasonal and those in the supply chain, need reassurance.
1 – Work routine – ensure that individuals can be creative and use initiative and not be robots
2 – Praise – good work needs to be acknowledged. Lack of recognition can lead to disgruntled employees
3 – Opportunity – employees need to be able to see how they can grow and develop
Organisations may already consider these options, but they are imperative to maintain a motivated and willing workforce.
Future proofing may not suddenly magic up thousands of season workers, but it can definitely play a key role for organisations that rely heavily on the fruits of the industry.
Are you looking to hire seasonal workers? Click Here to arrange a 15 minute recruitment strategy call