Workers find happiness in rooftop farm

By Tan Yingzi and Deng Rui in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 09:31
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An employee of Chongqing Meixin Group shows off his catch in a fish catching and rice seedling planting event in the rooftop farm in Chongqing on May 7. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A group of employees at Chongqing Meixin Group rolled up their sleeves and pants on Tuesday morning and waded into a paddy field on their factory building's rooftop.

They were taking part in an activity that has been organized by the company for four years, with the aim of helping staff members decompress after long hours of work.

They caught fish and planted rice seedlings 33 meters above the ground at Happy Farm, a 20,000-square-meter ecosystem created by Meixin, a door manufacturer headquartered in Chongqing's Nan'an district. The farm produces crops like rice, rapeseed and lotus root and also features a 1-kilometer artificial river teeming with fish and shrimp.

"Most of the crops on the farm are tended to by our staff," said farm manager Liao Junli, adding that rooftop planting involves special cultivation techniques that utilize a thinner soil layer than traditional fields to prevent excessive loads on the roof.

The factory was selected as one of the fourth batch of "national green factories" by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2019.

In Chinese, the expression "catching fish during work hours" refers to slacking off at work.

But at Meixin, "our employer pays us to catch fish and grow crops of our own at work", joked Xu Zhengrong, a 48-year-old safety worker at the group's technical center.

Xu, who has been with the company for 18 years, secured an opportunity to manage a plot of land at the farm through a lottery system.

In her spare time, she grows sufficient vegetables to sustain her family throughout the year.

Xu said the company organizes various enjoyable welfare activities and offers favorable policies, making the working atmosphere relaxed and pleasant.

Liao Kun, a human resources manager at the company, said, "Happy Farm enables our staff to strike a balance between rest and work, especially after prolonged periods of monotonous mechanical tasks or computer work."

Liao said that even though the real estate market has been depressed in recent years, sales of Meixin's door products have remained relatively stable, with that success partially attributed to some "happy employees" who proposed constructive marketing ideas.

A nationwide survey of employees' emotional status last year by recruitment portal 51Job found that constant changes brought about by factors such as digitalization, deflation and the COVID-19 pandemic in the past few years had made "change fatigue" and "quiet quitting" common phenomena.

The report said more workers and graduates tend to believe that a "good job" is one with a low level of competition, allowing for a happy personal life and the promotion of their psychological well-being.

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