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Are you hiring migrant farm workers? Then notice these things!

admin February 17, 2016

Migrant workers become more and more important because they can fill labour and skill shortages. Recruiting migrants can be quite different from recruiting the local employees and new migrant workers may need lots of help to do their job better. Here are practical tips that help you better understand and support your migrant farm workers in their settlement into the workplace and better work performance. They can be good reference for farm owners, farm managers, co-workers of migrant workers.

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Below tips will help you find out how to:

  • Prepare for your migrant workers
  • Avoid HR headaches
  • Have happier, more productive employees


Practical tips on employing migrant farm workers

1. Accommodation



  • Imagine what you would need if you come to another country just with a suitcase. Consider supplying your new migrant workers with curtains; furniture (beds, chairs, table, etc.); bed sheets, blankets, pillows, towels; cutlery (knives, forks, spoons, etc.); crockery (dishes, plates, mugs, etc.); cleaning equipment; some basic foodstuffs; Internet connection
  • Show such basics as how to use cleaning equipment, where to put the rubbish, what can and can’t go down the sink, etc.
  • Let them know that you’ll inspect the house from time to time
  • Set clear expectations about keeping the accommodation in good order
  • Inform them about what will happen if there is any damage to the property


2. Clothing




  • Provide right gear for your migrant workers to work on farm
  • Supply them with protective clothing and equipment. Instruct them on how to use them.


3. Onboarding process




  • On arrival

- Show new migrant workers around their accommodation; explain the house rules; and instruct how to use the basics you have provided

- Show them where to buy food, clothes and other basic needs, the location of medical centers

- Let them know about social activities, religious groups they can join

- Ensure them have the right clothing they need for work

- Prepare a written list of tasks

- Prepare an employment agreement and give a copy to your new migrant worker

- Give them information about the local community and important contact details

- Have a system of recording hours of work and leave taken by your employees. This can help avoid labor disputes.

  • First day at work

- Welcome your new employees

- Meet with immediate supervisor

- Introduce them to ‘buddies’ or mentors

- Introduce them to team members

- Give them a tour to the workplace

- Give them the prepared documents about the job and workplace

- Show them how to use any important equipment

- Set up regular meetings with your migrant employees and their ‘buddy’ to help them become settled into the workplace

  • Next days

- Organize on-the-job or off-job training

- Give orientation program

- Organize some social activities for your migrant workers


4. Orientation


Orientation for your migrant workers can be helpful because it sets out your expectations, helps your new workers become familiar with your farm, and means fewer mistakes are made.

Orientation programs often include information about: the farm and the daily routine; people’s roles and responsibilities; your expectation about their work; their employment rights and obligations; health, safety and hazards.

For your new migrant workers, you may need to take such extra steps as:

  • Give a basic farm manual: Migrant workers may find written instruction easier to understand than listening to the instructions. A manual is a useful way to share information. Make it short and simple, with photos or diagrams to explain tasks. A farm map is also helpful.
  • Pair your migrant employee up with a buddy. A buddy is someone that knows what to do and can work alongside with a migrant employee and explain things.
  • Give a thorough orientation. Migrants are new to your dairy industry. They may have never operated a rotary milking system, handled and applied chemicals, used a chain saw, or been around a large herd before.
  • Make sure your migrant workers can safely operate farm vehicles and machinery. Give training so that they can define hazardous tasks and/ or equipment that they can’t operate until they are fully trained. Steps in training can include: 1) show them; 2) watch them; 3) leave them to it, but check their work.


5. Communication


  • Words used on farm like four-wheeler, quad bike, bobby calf, bovine, drench, colostrum, heifer, metal road, mastitis, etc. may be new to them. You can help them learn the new words by writing them down. Farmers that take the time to help their workers with new words often see improvements in productivity.
  • Encourage your migrant workers to talk slowly and pause if you’re having difficulty to understand them
  • Be clear when giving instructions
  • Give important instructions in writing if necessary
  • Use simple language with fewer syllables; explain jargon and complicated words
  • Use a whiteboard or noticeboard, or maps and signs in the workplace
  • Try not to yell or swear as it can cause offence
  • Check you are understood by asking your new workers “so, what are you going to do first?”, etc.
  • Translate all relevant documents into the primary language of your workers
  • Use an interpreter when you give instructions or feedback to your workers. There is someone in your farm that speaks both languages fluently enough to convey your message to your workers.
  • Provide language classes for your migrant workers so that they can meet the basic language requirements for your business. Teach them work words, warnings and other important communication elements that are necessary for them to reply to your performance standards. Remember, teach the basics first. Later, if you have desire and resources, you can give additional opportunities for your workers to learn the language skills they need to thrive in the workplace.
  • Use repetition: As with any new concept, people often don’t manage to learn something the first time they hear it. Workers need to hear the same message again and again before they can fully seize it. Don’t expect them to learn anything after being told once.
  • Learn the basics of your migrant worker’s language: If you want to communicate effectively with your migrant workers and improve employer-employee relationship, you can consider learning some words and phrases in their language. The most effective way to show you value the diversity of your workers is your willingness to learn from them. Have them teach you how to say hello, thank you, goodbye, and other important pleasantries you can use to interact with them.


Where can you go for more help?

Choose manpower placement agency with friendly, helpful services. They can provide you qualified employees and ensure these workers are settled into your workplace and show good performance. 

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