Modern agriculture is a high-tech business where sophisticated machines and algorithms enable companies to reach unprecedented levels of productivity. Automation has also greatly reduced the need for manual labor, reducing costs, and introducing some unexpected challenges.
One of these challenges has to do with parts of the business, like fruit picking, that has not yet been automated. These are tasks that usually require a large number of workers to be on the farm during a short period of time, creating a brief, but the very acute spike in the company’s HR needs.
The problem with spikes
Spikes are never a good thing for businesses and having to hire large numbers of temporary workers is no exception. Agribusiness, or the companies they outsource the work to, often have problems finding enough workers and coordinating their movement from one location to the next. The issue is further complicated by the fact that most of these seasonal workers leave their normal place of residence during picking season and travel to wherever work is needed, making it harder for companies to contact them
Since they are on the move, mobile phones are usually the best way to reach them, but calling each of them can be a tedious and labor-intensive process. The recent surge in popularity of messaging apps makes the work a bit easier but still requires workers to be processed manually on an individual basis.
Part of the problem is that the company needs first to create a list of potential workers, receiving applications via email, phone, or other means, and then go through the list to find people that are available in the right area at the right time.
Automating the process
Historically one of the solutions has been using websites to automate at least part of the process. The main advantage is that when the worker interacts directly with a computer system the information can be automatic logged-into the company’s management system making things like scheduling, organization, and logistics a lot easier.
The disadvantage is that websites work best when people are sitting comfortably at home and have computers at hand but aren’t ideal for workers that are on the move or don’t have computers. They are also not great at handling last-minute changes and notifying large groups of people.
An ideal solution would be one that combines the ability of a website to interface with a company’s systems and the ability of a human being to contact people individually and make new arrangements with them through conversations. This solution is called a chatbot.
Chatbots are essentially computer programs that have the unique ability to hold conversations with people through messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger. As computer programs, they can seamlessly interface with systems like CRMs and human resources management programs.
Being computer programs they can scale up very easily, holding hundreds of simultaneous conversations without ever needing a break or a salary. They can also work in multiple languages, giving workers a more natural way to connect with the company and increasing the system’s efficiency.
To learn more about how your company could take advantage of this new technology, reach out to our team using the link below.