If it wasn’t for people, business would be easy… and the same goes for management. 

What’s the second most frequent complaint of farmers nationwide (after weather, of course)? That would be LABOR, am I right? For most farms and food businesses, labor is the single largest expense category – usually by a big margin. And just like with the weather, farm folk like to share their labor stresses and strains. Not enough labor, not at the right time, too expensive, too slow, too sensitive, and on and on the list goes. Again, just as the weather is beyond our control, human behavior often is, too.. That said, there’s plenty we can do to become better managers. That’s for sure.

And we’ll need to, because there’s a freight train headed our way in the form of changing labor laws. California is already well into a four-year phase-in plan, whereby agriculture is no longer exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. New York state, too, is headed that way. Overall, California sets the trend for the U.S. Wages, and overtime pay will soon become normalized for farms across the nation.

Here at KTC, we’re devoting our time and attention to helping managers learn some new ways of managing labor. Some of this work involves self-management on the part of the entrepreneur, and some focuses outward – on the staff. We’ve been conducting farmer interviews, and while much of the information we’ve gathered makes good sense, what’s missing across the board is a solid handle on the key metrics that illuminate how growers are doing in terms of labor management. This is worrisome. In every other industry, labor efficiency and output is measured, managed and controlled on a regular and consistent basis. If we can’t measure success or failure of our efforts, beyond the yearly P&L, then how can we make changes for the better? 

With this in mind we are building some tools and methods that you can use to measure what matters. This is a nut we’re absolutely determined to crack.

Stay tuned for more in the coming months.  In the meantime, if you have a story to tell, or something to share about how you measure labor effectiveness and efficiency on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, we would love to hear from you.

Send your story to our team: [email protected].