Thursday, February 29, 2024
Editors editorial

Sunshine, stock and staff

It’s that old chestnut, ‘I can’t believe it is November already’. Are you ready for the Christmas period? Sunshine, stock and staff could determine how merry the trading period will be.

Many sectors have had a difficult post COVID period due to supply-side bottlenecks and staff shortages. Shortages blamed on a variety of factors such as a scarcity of itinerant workers, backpackers and restrictions caused by illness and quarantine.

Another factor that may affect your business is described by the former Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg as the ‘Great Reshuffle’. In the US, this trend was labelled ‘the Great Resignation’ but so far, the trend in Australia is more gradual. The Australian Treasury estimated that over a million workers found and started new jobs between November 2021 and February 2022, an increase of 10% above the pre-COVID average. Workers who changed jobs received an estimated 8 to 10% pay increase. Workers who changed jobs, generally moved to more productive firms that helped them develop.

According to a report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), higher pay was the top reason for changing jobs but there is a trend towards a better work-life balance with improvements to mental health. Flexible work practices minimising stress and burnout are becoming more important. Our industry could benefit from a trend like this. Work-life balance has enticed many previously.

Enhancing the industry profile to one that benefits from professional qualifications and having clear career pathways, could bring new leaders into the industry. Hort Innovation recently completed a project to develop future leaders for the horticulture sector. The Graduate and Leadership program addressed some or the challenges of promoting careers in horticulture to university students. The university candidates were placed across a range of horticultural businesses including producers, suppliers, marketing and distribution, research and consultancy.

Not everyone employed in horticulture will be a university graduate. Research from the Diversity Council Australia identifies three million Australians who are looking for work or want more work, while 31% of Australian organisations say they can’t find workers. These job seekers are likely to be from marginalised groups including people with a disability. Recruitment processes may have an unintentional bias that excludes a diversity of talent from these groups.

The CEO of the Diversity Council Australia is quoted as saying “the best way to be equitable and inclusive is to treat people fairly, and sometimes that requires treating some people differently to others”.

Several nurseries, both production and retail, have tapped into this pool of workers.  Providing a pathway for professional development provides motivated workers with greater job satisfaction. Having a diverse range of workers does not mean you can’t have a homogenous and satisfying work environment.

The health and wellbeing of nursery and garden industry staff comes into focus this November with an ICL Specialty Fertilizers initiative, Spring Blueming. Although the main goal is to foster a healthy work environment, it could also be used to raise money for Beyond Blue (Australia) or Mental Health (New Zealand). Greenlife Industry Australia’s CEO Joanna Cave and Jack Hobbs from Auckland Botanic Gardens are this year’s national ambassadors. Businesses are encouraged to hold a Spring Blueming event on November 14th 2022. See GIA website for more details.

All the very best, and enjoy the read.

Karen Smith and your Hort Journal Team

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