At the beginning of the season, Ellen and Gerard Mertz started using GrowPro because they wanted to know what employees were doing. At first, some of the Polish employees were quite skeptical about this new time and attendance system,” says Ellen Mertz. ‘Within 2 days, that skepticism turned into enthusiasm.’
In the summer months, 40 flex-workers work daily at Mertz kleinfruit in Sint Geertruid, South Limburg. Mertz small fruit is a young and modern company that grows blackberries, redcurrants and hardy kiwis. The characteristic slopes and loess soil provide excellent natural conditions. The cultivated fruit is picked by hand in the summer and offered for auction only a few hours after the harvest,’ Ellen Mertz explains. We also process some of the fruit into regional products, such as jams and fruit juices. It goes without saying that we do not add any artificial coloring or flavoring to these products.
Last year, the GrowPro stand caught the eye of Ellen and Gerard Mertz during a visit to the van Zuilen family’s small fruit fair. Mertz kleinfruit was convinced of the added value GrowPro could bring to their operations, and made an appointment with Maurice Vullers to get started with the user-friendly harvest and labor registration system. Even though we pay our employees by the hour,” Ellen Mertz continues. ‘For a complete picture of the business operations, it is nice to know how many kilos individual employees pick per day or per week.’
‘We get a more realistic picture of individual performance this way.’
Until last season, a Polish employee kept daily track of the number of hours worked. ‘It’s logical that everyone had to get used to the new registration system,’ Ellen Mertz remembers well. ‘Some employees felt that we were keeping an eye on them. That’s not the case, of course. Sometimes I had to assume that everyone had picked the same amount at the end of the day. GrowPro shows at a glance that performance varies. We get a more realistic picture of individual performance that way.’
Of course, the daily operations at Mertz small fruit include more than just picking blackberries, redcurrants and kiwis. ‘The strength of GrowPro also lies in adding other activities to the system,’ says Ellen Mertz enthusiastically. Think of activities such as sorting the harvested fruit, pruning or growing plants. Even the hours we spend on our other company Innofruit are made transparent. So at the end of the month, Gerard and I know exactly which business activities hours have been spent on.
Every Tuesday, Ellen Mertz downloads an Excel sheet from GrowPro with an overview of the hours worked, which employees are expected to sign. In order to pass the so-called GRASP module, this signature is a plus,’ Ellen Mertz notes with satisfaction. In this way we show our customers that we comply with the social paragraph of good entrepreneurship in the fruit sector.’ GRASP is the abbreviation for Global Risk Assessment on Social Practice. The module of the same name assesses whether a company meets the applicable requirements for personnel and payroll administration, pensions and outsourcing of work.
‘For a complete picture of the business operations, it is nice to know how many kilos individual employees pick per day or per week.’
The time has now come to evaluate GrowPro as a time and labor registration system. The initial experiences are very positive according to Ellen Mertz. ‘We now have a much more accurate picture of the number of hours made. This is crucial information for planning next season’s operations. This year we have not yet used all modules. Gerard and I will use the winter months to make the right choices.