How to Keep Up Farm Morale in Times of COVID-19

By now, you and your farm team are adapting to the temporary COVID-19 working conditions. Whether it’s social distancing, extra sanitation efforts, or additional management of your teams’ health, there is a danger of rapid declines of productivity and morale on the farm right during a time we are being asked to put in extra efforts to keep the food and fiber system running. There are certainly challenges right now, but farms can help keep morale high with the following tips.

Daily checklist for keeping up team morale and productivity:

Be visible and vocal — with short, focused messages
  • Prioritize team meetings and check-ins to ensure productivity, goals and expectations are being met
  • Use a group text, private group on social media, team call, or quick email to send out direct communication regarding the day’s activities or important updates on the farm
  • Ask those involved in the farm to step up their communication. Let them know it is important to you for them to voice their questions and concerns.
  • Lead with motivation. Share inspiring quotes, video clips or good news stories that build motivation, and foster a positive mindset (i.e. Farmer tribute to health care workers)
Show appreciation — celebrate the wins
  • Now is the time to make an effort to say ‘Thank You’ and acknowledge individuals for the positive things they are doing as part of your team
  • Bring in lunch for the team and keep snacks and drinks available throughout the day
  • Consider a way to come together in a team building activity and give back to your local community. (i.e. Donate PPE to your local fire or police departments, do a can food drive for your foodbank, raise funds for another local business that may be struggling)
  • Don’t forget spouses and children. Be mindful that there is extra pressure and anxiety in most households. Help out local businesses and lighten the load for spouses with gift certificates to restaurants or even flowers now, or salon or entertainment gift certificates to use in the future
Be flexible — in schedules, roles and expectations
  • Be clear on essential daily productivity benchmarks, but be empathetic and flexible with farm policies. COVID-19 has presented logistical and emotional challenges, and it’s important to incorporate flexibility in our operations to accommodate those adjustments
  • Consider ways to be flexible in schedules to help keep employees safe (social distancing) and accommodate personal needs. (i.e. childcare)
  • Evaluate if there are certain activities that can be done safely with children, such as trucking or time in cabs
  • Be flexible in your expectations, knowing that these are challenging times for many individuals. Reinforce the importance of open communication when changes or challenges arise
Encourage employees to stay active and mindful
  • Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or find a way to increase your heart rate. Lots of research shows that every day activities slash your risk of premature death and improve your overall health—so any amount of movement you and your team can squeeze in counts
  • Encourage your team members to be mindful of how they are feeling and acting on a given day, and stay calm
  • Guide your team to contain the anxiety that COVID-19 brings. This can be done by limiting news intake, social media activity, setting a check-in time with the family, or just taking a few minutes to be mindful of environmental stressors
Be proactive — incorporate learnings and think ahead
  • Now is your opportunity to learn new tools and methods for improving the farm operation such as:
    • Develop COVID-19 protocol for your farm and consider how some of these new practices (i.e. increased hand washing, cross-training skills, flexible schedules or roles) may benefit your farm operation long-term
    • Connect with local ag leaders, peer farmers and extension educators to stay in the loop with the latest developments
    • Think ahead to how you may need to flex or adapt your farm to meet future needs or changes in the ag industry

It can sometimes seem like these COVID-19 protective measures will last forever. Remind yourself and your team that it will end, even if we might not have a clear end date. We will return to our regular lives in the days ahead.

Granular is committed to helping farmers and their teams be as effective as possible, especially during these trying times. Contact us at 888-435-4726.

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