Ganaz is leveraging technology to help agricultural employers eliminate paperwork, streamline payday, and tackle challenges related to hiring seasonal employees on H-2A visas.
Addressing HR & Payroll Issues in Seasonal Agriculture
Q&A with Hannah Freeman the CEO and Co-Founder | Ganaz
Tell us about yourself and your role with Ganaz.
My name is Hannah Freeman and I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Ganaz. My whole career has been driven by the belief that you can build a virtuous cycle between workers, employers and downstream retailers and consumers. I was at Fair Trade USA for many years, building that belief into a thriving market for Fair Trade produce. And while I was there, I watched farmworkers adopt cell phones and then smartphones. The industry was trying to solve huge problems, including a painful labor shortage, food safety, and compliance with complicated labor laws. White-collar industries had their pick of incredible people platforms like Gusto. But in agriculture, there wasn’t a single software platform that had figured out how to serve this industry well–to help it run more efficiently and take better care of its workers. I figured we could build that and build it better than anyone else because we intimately understood each part of the supply chain and really cared about each of them.
What is Ganaz’s mission and how does your software help bridge the gap between agricultural employers and workers?
Ganaz is a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to leveraging technology to uplift the well-being of the agriculture industry, its hardworking labor force, and the local communities it serves. Our software serves as the bridge, empowering agricultural employers to seamlessly modernize outdated, time-consuming, and risky HR processes. By doing so, we not only streamline operations but also foster transparency, ensuring a more harmonious and prosperous environment for both employers and employees alike.
How is Ganaz leveraging technology to modernize and streamline the ways agricultural employers hire, manage and communicate with their workforce?
At Ganaz, we're leveraging technology to make recruiting, hiring, managing, and communicating with workers a breeze. In the past, dealing with employee paperwork in farming was a big headache—lots of forms, lots of time, and lots of room for mistakes. Whether hiring a dozen or a thousand of workers, ag employers were often buried in paperwork that caused administrative bottlenecks and risks for their company.
But Ganaz is turning things around. Our digital onboarding system eliminates all that paperwork and allows HR teams to hire workers from anywhere using our Ganaz mobile app. Hiring managers can easily scan employee identification documents, enter required information, auto-populate all forms, and capture one electronic signature to complete employee paperwork 3x faster. Our tool removes guesswork and human error on legal forms, like the I-9 and W-4, ensuring they are complete, consistent and error-free. With our Ganaz web portal, HR professionals who used to spend hours deciphering handwriting and entering employee information into their HR or payroll software can now skip the manual data entry and access employee forms instantly from their digital filing cabinet in the cloud.
We're not just about paperwork, though. Ganaz also helps employers stay connected with their workers using our Workforce Communication tool. We’ve found that typically ag employers rely on word-of-mouth through supervisors or crew leaders, which is time-consuming and prone to miscommunications. With Ganaz, employers can send bulk messages to groups or individuals through SMS or WhatsApp that are 2-way translated to eliminate language barriers. Clear communication can be a game changer for worker engagement, and Ganaz is dedicated to ensuring there is a direct line of communication between leaders and employees.
In 2024, Ganaz believes that HR professionals should be freed up from tedious paperwork and administrative hassles to focus on what really matters for their companies. We’re making our customers’ jobs easier and saving them precious resources, and we’re passionate about how these shifts can ultimately transform how the agriculture industry manages its most important asset – its workforce.
Ganaz offers a payroll card uniquely designed for agricultural workers - what specific challenges does your payroll card address and how has it been working for cardholders?
At Ganaz, we're not just about digitizing onboarding; we're also addressing the specific challenges that agricultural workers face when it comes to payday. Many growers and farm labor contractors, especially during peak seasons, were grappling with the tedious task of distributing paper paychecks to all of their employees every week or two. These employees then turn to check-cashing businesses and pay a portion of their paycheck to access their earnings. We knew there were payroll card options available, but kept hearing from customers about difficulties so we realized that none truly catered to the ag industry’s specific needs.
Recognizing this challenge, we developed a payroll card designed specifically for agricultural workers, especially those who are unbanked with traditional banks. Our payroll card is unique in that it leverages text-based technology, allowing the cardholder to manage their finances via text messages or WhatsApp - no need for an email address, complicated passwords, or downloading a mobile app.
Our payroll card offers a range of additional features in addition to a convenient and secure Direct Deposit option for unbanked employees. On-the-spot activation when the payroll card is issued provides peace of mind that funds will be immediately accessible after the first payroll deposit. And our in-house bilingual cardholder support ensures that Ganaz cardholders receive personalized assistance in their home language. For H-2A cardholders, our integrated Envíos con Ganaz remittance option allows them to send money to Mexico without waiting in long lines to cash checks and initiate transfers in person.
But rather than just take our word for it, let's hear what our customers have to say:
Cardholder Miguel Angel Garcia shared, “It’s a lot of help. You no longer have to go cash a check. You see, they charge $1 for every $100, so, per season, it’s about $200 or $300.”
Cardholder G. Lopez shared, “...it’s better than other cards. What I like about this card is that, right away, it tells me what I spent; other cards don’t. With other cards, you have to go into an app to see your balance or how much you’re spending.”
These testimonials speak volumes about the positive impact our payroll card is having on the lives of agricultural workers, providing not just convenience but also peace of mind.
I understand Ganaz recently launched a product to help ag employers with their H-2A visa worker programs. What are the key challenges agricultural employers are facing with this program and how is Ganaz tackling those pain points?
In recent years, the H-2A program has seen a significant surge in interest, with visa issuances nearly doubling between 2017 and 2022. This trend is now skyrocketing, driven in part by new state laws that have come into effect. Agricultural employers grappling with labor shortages increasingly turn to the H-2A program despite the associated expenses and compliance challenges. Hiring H-2A workers involves navigating complex regulations, paperwork, deadlines, and logistical hurdles that extend across international borders.
Ganaz has stepped up to address these pain points head-on by introducing a comprehensive full-service H-2A program to manage the process on behalf of the farm or employer. This includes in-house candidate assessment and recruitment in Mexico, coordination of consulate appointments, and transportation for new and returning workers. Additionally, we offer an advanced employer dashboard that enhances visibility and control throughout the H-2A process. This dashboard serves as a centralized hub, bringing together crucial documents, milestone trackers for the process, worker profiles, and a streamlined chat feature so Ganaz can easily communicate with the employer and flag pending items.
When executed effectively, the H-2A program not only offers growers a reliable workforce but also has the potential to uplift lives and communities through increased economic opportunities. To do this right, Ganaz places a special emphasis on ethical recruitment practices and leveraging our local team to conduct extensive candidate assessments that are made available to employers for greater visibility before employee arrival.
By offering a transparent process, training and preparing workers prior to arrival, and providing ongoing support throughout the season, Ganaz empowers employers to navigate the H-2A program with confidence. The ultimate outcome is a high-quality and productive workforce that benefits not only employers but also the employees and their home communities.
What feedback have you received from HR managers about the impact your software has had on them and their companies?
At Ganaz, we take immense pride in the positive impact our software has had on our customers. We recognize that our customers’ feedback is the driving force behind our continuous efforts to make their jobs easier and enhance their overall experience. Their insights fuel our commitment to providing solutions that truly meet their needs. In fact, many of the new features we’ve developed are a direct result of the valuable feedback from our customers. We view them as essential collaborators, guiding us in the right direction and ensuring that our software evolves in tandem with the dynamic needs of the agricultural sector.
Let's delve into the firsthand experiences and testimonials from HR managers and field operators who have witnessed the real benefits of Ganaz in action.
"Ganaz is extremely easy to use for the hiring process, for enrolling into payroll cards, they have made it so user friendly. And it works really well with integrating into payroll systems so you're not having to sit there for days entering all their W-4 and I-9 information.
The communication tool has been really great to use as well regarding like places that we're going to pick or when we think our season's going to start. That sort of communication that in the past was really difficult to have and kind of make it more efficient for the worker and for us.” Tiffany Davis, Business Manager, K&K Land and Management
“There are a lot of other companies out there that can offer onboarding systems. None understood the unique dynamics of our agriculture industry. Ganaz has their finger on the pulse of this industry, and they offer an evolving, innovative solution and listens to the needs of their clients. So, for us, that was a win, win situation.” Steve Bradbury, Payroll Manager, FirstFruits Farms
“I would recommend other growers to use this platform. In the first place, they would use less staff in the office; a single person can do the paperwork for 20 - 30 [farmworkers] in less than half an hour. Until now, I have not found another platform, or another company, that offers me these services.” Jose Garcia, Area Manager, NWFM
What advice would you give a company who wants to streamline their processes but is concerned about adopting technology?
For ag companies seeking to streamline their processes while harboring concerns about embracing new technology, our top advice is to seek out companies that prioritize customer support. At Ganaz, we strongly believe that software is only as good as the level of service you receive from the provider…. That’s why, from day one, each new customer that joins the Ganaz platform is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager who not only possesses in-depth knowledge about our technology but is also attuned to the unique needs and challenges of the ag industry. During the implementation phase, our CSM’s will work closely with our customers’ team to ensure a seamless transition and address any concerns or questions promptly. We encourage every HR team to capitalize on their CSM’s expertise and support throughout their ongoing partnership with Ganaz so they can maximize the value of our tools.
With this in mind, we are especially proud and honored when we receive positive feedback from customers on our level of support, such as this review from Sarah McCarty, CFO at HMC Farms - “We have been through many platform/software implementations and transitions over the years, so we know better than to expect everything will go completely seamlessly from day one. Taking this attitude into the Ganaz implementation, we were pleasantly surprised when our transition to using the Ganaz platform went so smoothly. Now that we are up and running, Ganaz has been very responsive to support questions and requests for improvements, and I have to say, this transition has been such a positive experience for our entire HR team.”
We are proud of our reputation in the industry for providing a high-level of service and becoming a trusted partner in our customers’ journeys towards more sophisticated and modern HR processes. We believe that is what every company deserves when introducing new tools and systems so we urge you to find software companies that are committed to supporting your team during implementation and beyond.
About Hannah Freeman
Hannah Freeman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ganaz. Before founding Ganaz, Hannah spent 14 years at Fair Trade USA launching and growing the market for Fair Trade Certified fresh produce. She worked with supermarket executives, brands, growers, and farmworkers to build win-win business models that helped workers and businesses thrive. The same passion for mutually beneficial businesses drove her to found Ganaz. At Ganaz, we use technology to help employers, workers, and communities thrive. Hannah has a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American Studies and an MBA from Portland State University.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow
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