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|Trends within the Hispanic workforce|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Management|
|Written by Santiago Ledwith|
|Monday, 14 November 2011 15:33|
In the last few years, we have noticed gradual changes in our Hispanic workforce. These range from changes in technology to changes in the age and maturity patterns of new workers. As dairy owners and managers, it is important to be aware of these changes and make decisions that will help the dairy become a more effective and efficient operation.
Technology and communication
This is helpful since it allows us to have better communication with all our workers, even with those who cannot communicate in English. Many times during training I recommend managers to teach their workers, if necessary, to shoot pictures or video of any problem they encounter (a prolapse, for example) and send them by phone.
I also frequently recommend to the workers that when they are not carrying pencil and paper and they have to report a cow, they should send a text message or take a picture of the cow’s tag, thus avoiding any identification mistake or forgetting to report it. The technology is here and we can use it to increase our communication within the team.
Need for training
If we do not have ready a pre-established training program for this position, the new employee will do what makes more sense or whatever is easiest, which may go against the dairy’s interests.
Many of the people we train have not finished high school, which translates into workers with a lower educational level, who may have some difficulty learning, reading and even writing in their own language, which makes the manager’s jobs more challenging.
a) Employees today need more feedback from herdsmen. Feedback must always be given in a constructive and positive manner, even when we want to correct unwanted behavior.
b) Good employees like to be held accountable for their work. This separates them from the rest. Sometimes it is good to measure individual results within the workforce, so we can isolate those workers that are not giving 100 percent and re-train them if necessary.
c) Today, most workers are more thin-skinned toward any comment or criticism. In some situations, we have even seen that the mere facial expressions of the managers are more than enough to motivate or discourage the workforce.
d) The need to be praised for their job and efforts is important. However, we must be very careful when giving praise. If we are not sincere or if we give praise for absolutely anything, it takes away its value and importance.
Influence of immigration policies
As we can imagine, the current immigration situation has created a very negative environment for Hispanic workers, especially Mexicans that have been in the U.S. for some time.
On top of feeling pressured, they want to go back to their own country since the Mexican economy has improved recently – in fact, they are already doing so.
All of these factors have contributed, generally speaking, to fewer people willing to take the risk of crossing the border. According to official figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the number of detentions decreased by 58 percent between 2006 and 2010.
All these changes have resulted in a temporary shortage of Hispanic workers in some states. This shortage could become a permanent challenge for the industry if programs like E-Verify become mandatory nationwide.
Lastly, I want to mention that change is constant and we must be aware of the new trends caused by the dynamics of our society. As dairy owners and managers, we must observe and identify these gradual changes so we can help our dairies be more effective and efficient. EL