Co-designing a Tools Package to Support Agriculturalists in Modern Workforce Management

  • 2023

  • Design Research

Designed In:


This project worked towards designing practical tools to support agricultural employers, particularly those in horticulture to help implement workforce management and planning practices. This in turn assists agricultural businesses to adjust to disruptions and challenges in the labour market and supports improvement of the industry’s workplace image and reputation.

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  • This project sits at the intersection of multiple complex systems – trade, global politics, modern slavery, food security, immigration, and the Australian economy, amongst others. The transient nature of the job, grueling physical work in tough conditions, situated in remote locations and poor reputation of the sector with few long-term career opportunities are barriers that limit growers' ability to continuously plan their labour. Poor labour management results in poor quality of work, loss of produce, delays, loss of profits and growers struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

  • ThinkPlace conducted research and undertook a process of rapid prototyping and testing through engaging with peak bodies and growers across Australia. The output was a suite of tools that support small-to-medium sized growers manage and plan their workforce. This includes a Pre-Harvest Checklist, a Workforce and Business Analysis tool and a set of case study videos that drive home the value of workforce planning and management.

  • The two tools developed help growers: - Evaluate their workforce planning and management processes before harvest. - Document and analyse workforce data in combination with operational costs, to give growers a true picture of their business profits. These tools are available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for all to use. In combination with the case study videos, the entire suite is currently being used by peak bodies and the Department to highlight the importance of workforce planning and management for profitability and sustainability of their businesses.

  • We have attached a project overview video in the 'Supporting Materials' section that summarises the project from the perspective of our researchers. The 'Images & Videos' section includes snapshots of the different interventions that were developed through the project. The webpage for the Department of Agriculture's website provides download links for the different interventions, as well as an overview of the project from the Department's perspective.