Worker Engagement is the Secret to A&W’s High Quality Produce
Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce (A&W) is on a mission to improve lives from farm to table. With farms in Mexico and California, they grow high quality strawberries and tomatoes. As one of the leaders in social responsibility in the industry, they seek to create a connection between consumers and the people that grew and harvested their food.
Communication leads to worker engagement
Improving worker engagement requires more than posting announcements in the fields. It means that the company needs to be in direct and constant communication with farm workers. That’s why A&W started working with Ganaz in May of 2018, using technology to facilitate two-way communication with thousands of workers.
In the words of Alondra Armenta; Human Resources at A&W:
“Ganaz is a way to bring company and workers closer together, without intermediaries. I believe Ganaz seeks the welfare of the most vulnerable people, farm workers, and for them to know their rights and obligations.”
Being able to receive and send text messages to the company is helping a great deal to form workers’ impression of A&W as an employer. Alondra mentions that they have received encouraging messages from workers regarding the use of Ganaz; like this one: “The company cares about me, takes me into account and keeps me informed of the changes, of what is happening”.
Using technology to train their workforce
People are an essential part of the agriculture business. Field and pack workers are on the front lines of food safety and quality. Andrew & Williamson’s management know this very well and through their involvement in certifications like Fair Trade and EFI, and their commitment to communication, they aim to empower farm workers to be more productive and take pride in the quality of their produce.
A&W manages 13 different certifications and their HR Department’s use of Ganaz has been helpful in educating workers about them.
“Using Ganaz has helped us to train workers on the topics of the certifications that we maintain: we teach them about food safety, reminding them to always wash their hands. We train them on work safety and caution them not to load more than 2 boxes at a time. We emphasize on the issues to avoid safety risks and improve product quality.”
Alondra experienced a clear example firsthand during a Fair Trade Certified audit. “A success story we had is that farm workers told the auditor about Ganaz. Many said: the company cares about us, they send us messages explaining what Fair Trade is, what are its goals. They are sending us information and they are keeping us in the loop.”
These types of comments are quite helpful, especially when undergoing audits to maintain a certification that, among other things, aims to increase transparency and engagement between those in the supply chain.
Connecting farm workers and the final consumer as a motivational strategy
In any job, it’s easy to go through the motions of the day to day tasks and lose connection to the final outcome of one’s work and to the company’s mission. And no engagement generally results in unmotivated, less productive workers. In order to keep this connection top of mind, A&W has started to share consumer messages with workers.
“From time to time consumers send us messages to our brand’s email. Recently, we received an email from a consumer in the US telling us that our strawberries were the best she had ever had. She praised the quality of our products and wanted to thank the farm workers that produced them. We used Ganaz to share this message with our workers and many commented that they felt very motivated. They were happy that their hard work was recognized by a consumer who lives so far away.”