Ask anyone about the endearing qualities of those who make up the ag sector and you are sure to hear phrases like: “they are so friendly,” and “they would give you the shirt off their back,” and “they will go out of their way to help you.”
As we enter another busy season, we also enter another season of hospitality. More and more businesses are turning to various foreign visa programs to help fill the labor shortage. As diversity in the workforce increases, we hear questions about how to help people feel welcome while maintaining the employer/employee relationship. A few ideas to consider are:
• Invite Employees to Church: Every year there is usually some turnover on the team. Especially with new team members, employers would do well to invite their visa workers to attend church. Consider also providing a list of local churches as a way of integrating in the community.
• Manage New Experiences: Navigating banks and the DMV can be unnerving for a new worker. Your ability to managing their expectations of what happens at each location can set the tone for a productive interaction. Some employers go to the bank or the DMV with their employees while others provide a one pager on where to go, what ID to take, and what to ask/look for.
• Provide the Necessities: Arriving in a new country without understanding the lay of the land can make an immediate transition into work difficult. Setting up housing similar to a hotel (shampoo and body wash, a warm meal the night of arrival, and a few basic grocery staples) provides a considerate touch and gives new workers a few less things to worry about.
Agriculture has written the book on rolling out the “welcome” mat. Doing the little things to ease the uncertainty of a new place, to demonstrate grace during the tough times, or to remind ourselves and others why we choose to live here are just a few of the many reasons this industry maintains its sterling reputation for hospitality. “People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou