Find, bind and retain good workers thanks to data

18 June 2021

Finding good workers in the horticulture sector has become a top sport. We are in a displacement market. And if you have already found good people, you are faced with the next challenge: binding and retaining them. How can data play a role in retaining good staff? Willem Verwoerd is a specialist within Horti Analytics in the field of labor and optimization. He explains how he helps companies in the horticulture sector to visualize the improvement and savings opportunities in the labor process.

What exactly do you mean by a labor process?

It’s twofold. You have a process – think workflow, how are things done? On the other hand, you still have to optimize labor, how can it be done better and more efficiently? Work must be well organized, I always look at 4 pillars: recruitment and selection, housing and transport, pay slip and the workplace of the organization. These 4 pillars must all stand firmly. If this is not the case, there is a good chance that employees will soon switch to another company or industry.

How can data ensure labor optimization?

As a horticultural company, you want the costs per unit to be as efficient as possible. Unfortunately, we see that many companies ask themselves the question ‘What does an hour of labor cost me?’, when the question should actually be ‘What is the value of an hour of labor?’. This is an essential difference. An hourly wage of €18 is not necessarily cheaper than someone of €25 an hour. It is much more important to look at the value of that person. What’s in it for you? What is the employee’s behavior like? What can you say about the speed and quality of the work? To be able to draw conclusions about this, you need to have insight. With Horti Analytics we can collect this data and make it transparent in a dashboard. It is our passion to take that position to the next level. We don’t stop at providing a dashboard. You can put a Ferrari in front of the door, but not everyone can drive it. This is how it works with a PowerBI dashboard. It takes time to be able to work with it independently, we also support companies in this and/or we even see completely new functions emerging to offer a solution to the changing market.

Continuously checking the team on their results, what do they think of that?

The figures are not used to check employees, they should above all be used to be able to communicate well and clearly with the team. By providing more insight, employees receive more attention and often more appreciation. For example, we saw at a gerbera nursery that they went from an average of 1200 stems per hour to 2000 stems per hour. The entrepreneur benefits from this, but also the employee who goes home with a nice bonus. It is important that a real win-win situation is created.

Does data contribute to a future-proof labor market?

The problem of sufficient labor migrants in horticulture has not been solved overnight. We are dealing with sectors that have slightly better working conditions. Take, for example, warehousing/logistics; in the summer it is cool there and in the winter the heater is on. The internet also plays a major role. Migrant workers can now quickly find out for themselves what good employment agencies are and which sector has the best employment conditions. You don’t make the big difference by finding good people, but especially by keeping them. Provide insight, optimize your processes, reward good employees and show your appreciation. The chance that labor migrants will switch to another sector is suddenly a lot smaller. We all want to feel that we matter, right?

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