As the coronavirus has spread, agribusinesses have implemented measures to prepare and protect their workforces.
Travis Clark, Senior HR Business Partner for The Gavilon Group, LLC in Omaha, Nebraska, noted that they have regularly communicated with employees regarding prevention recommendations (such as washing hands), reducing business travel, and updating meeting policies.
“Our employees have shown concern, but mostly with travel and concern if in-person meetings are required,” Clark shared. “Several employees at our elevators have shown concern about coming to a larger city like Omaha.”
Preventative measures to ensure employees’ optimal health have also included asking employees to work from home or telecommute.According to a public statement released on Tyson Foods website, they are encouraging sick team members to stay home.
But while many agribusinesses can continue to conduct business virtually, others with production or manufacturing operations are unable to do the same. Businesses like Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC stated that staff members feeding and caring for cattle will need to continue coming to work.
“As part of our Work Ready Plan, we have action items in place should we need to execute,” said Donna Hendren, Director of HR Operations for Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC, when asked about assisting those employees.
Tyson potentially also has several food production employees that due to the nature of their duties would be unable to work from home, but they are taking steps to protect their operations.
Their public statement states, “We’re using a questionnaire to screen all visitors to our facilities before allowing entry.We continue to emphasize Good Manufacturing Practices for sanitation in all food production and storage areas and to emphasize sanitation measures in all other common areas.”
In addition to business as usual, agribusiness companies could suffer from recruitment restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Long-term recruitment and hiring will likely change as career fairs and larger gatherings of prospects continue to be cancelled,” Clark shared.
Still, according to LaborIQ, “job gains remain strong while we caution for impact of COVID-19.”
“The U.S. labor market is seeing robust job growth to start the year and the economy can still capitalize on growth in specific sectors, even while businesses take measures to adjust their short-term strategies due to the COVID-19 impact.”
AgCareers.com plans to further investigate the impact of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry. We have implemented a brief survey that we invite agribusiness employers to take; it can be found at this link. We plan to share results and shed light on what other agribusinesses are doing to prepare their workforces in our next newsletter.
In the meantime, we encourage agriculture and food employers to continue their recruitment efforts and recommend conducting interviews virtually. View our talent solutions products and job posting packages on AgCareers.com.
Because many employees across the industry are shifting to working remotely, here are some AgCareers.com resources to navigate this potentially unfamiliar process for both employers and employees:
Employee Resources for Working Remotely:
Employer Resources for Managing Remote Employees: