The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are upon us. Some farms will have special get-togethers for employees during this festive season. Michigan State University Extension reminds you that these are good opportunities to further develop your employees. Whether you are giving out t-shirts with the farm name or fruitcakes for one and all, consider how that can be just the opportunity you need.
When giving apparel with the farm name, take the opportunity to talk about the farm. Tell the history of the farm and the values that stand behind that name. Remind employees that when they wear that shirt or jacket that they represent the farm, and in fact, are ambassadors for your family business.
Likewise, they are an extension of the farm in the community and that the reputation of the farm is something they should help to build. They can build the reputation of the farm by providing good care for animals, by being conscious of the environment and by maintaining a good appearance of the farm.
Maybe you give food items to employees at a holiday party. Even that can be an opportunity to develop your employees. Just as you want to provide them with good, wholesome and safe food, that is exactly what the farm is in business to provide as well. Remind employees that safe food happens because at every step, and in every way, it was foremost in the consciousness of those who work to produce it.
I have become a believer in the importance of determining core values that define your business and then sharing those with employees. It may be that you decide to focus on one core value as you get employees together for a holiday party. Talk with them about how that core value should impact what and how things are done, or how people relate to and treat one another.
Gratitude for their work should be specifically expressed, especially at times like holidays and year-end. Make sure they know that you appreciate them and name some things that you especially appreciate, such as:
“I really like the way that Jose is friendly to everyone he works with.”
“Thanks, Maria, for being so gentle with our cattle.”
“John, I appreciate so much how you are here and ready for work each time you are scheduled.”
“Beth, your desire to learn more is much appreciated.”
If you cannot speak the language of an employee, make sure that it is being translated so that they can feel a part of the team.
Recognize with employees at a time like this that you appreciate that some of them will be working on Christmas, New Year’s, and other important days. Remind all that they have a role in helping those holiday shifts to go well by working ahead of time to reduce things that may have to be done, such as refilling, replacing, and repairing anything those working the holiday may need.
Take the opportunity to talk with employees about the fact that it is one business, one team. There may be different shifts, different languages, and even different cultures, but there, it is one team working for the same overall purpose, the success of the operation.
Employees may come to work without a background that taught them values that you believe should be common. Use opportunities such as this holiday to teach your values and to reinforce them. Live up to them yourself and remind employees that these values are what govern the business and all who work for it. Employee development is not just about farm skills; it is about instilling in them the culture that you want to represent your business.
Happy holidays! Happy employee development days!