This labor market in the landscape industry poses a challenge as every sector is feeling the pinch. These insights will help landscape professionals win more often at recruiting and retention.
Companies want ambitious people, and they rarely want someone who is only there for a paycheck. Keep ambitious people and recruit new ones by showing them how to advance. Having a defined career path and sharing it early and often inspires those go-getters to grow. This attracts them to your company and keeps them motivated.
Today’s workforce has the luxury of working for a company they believe in. They want and choose to work for companies whose values align with theirs. Make sure you’ve got a “Why?" behind your company’s purpose. The “Why?” cannot be making money. They want their workplace to contribute time and money to help low-income residents. They want to work for a company committed to participating in youth sports, for example. Fighting climate change is important to many, so talk about the CO2 offset from the trees you’re planting. Giving purpose is a great way to win in today’s labor market.
If your employees can’t fulfill their obligations outside work and do their job well, then they will find another workplace. They have a choice of where to work at the end of the day.
Be generous with paid time off, and don't bother people while they’re out. Make it easy for them to take time off. Let them do the things that fulfill them outside of work, and they’ll give you their best while they’re at work.
You’ll hear this from several places, which is that healthy culture is a must for today’s workers. Younger millenials and Gen Z workers are used to living lean because of the economic challenges people are experiencing post-pandemic. They live at home or rent rather than having a mortgage mostly because of financial reasons or not wanting to work at a job with a poor work environment. They’ll leave if they feel things are toxic. Create a supportive work environment. Allow people to give input and actually adopt some suggestions. There are some excellent ideas from young people, and you can use them. Ask about their well-being and be concerned about their answers. Create a way for them to give you feedback and make changes based on it. Allow them to work collaboratively to solve problems. Do these things, and you’ll keep more employees. Better retention means less energy and money invested in recruiting.
If you don’t have a thoughtful, easy, engaging onboarding process, you’ll spend more time recruiting. One study found that quality onboarding led to an 82 percent increase in employee retention. Make it easy to apply on your website and don’t require all the info you’ll need if you hire them. Allow them to complete this as electronically as possible. That means all of the new hire paperwork.
Most importantly, give them a head start. Show them where to park on day one, for example, or introduce them to their manager or supervisor. If that person is unavailable during the day, then have them send a short video introducing themselves. Email new hires videos that are three minutes or less explaining how to wear personal protective equipment properly, operate the equipment they’ll be using daily and load and unload the equipment at a jobsite. Nail onboarding and you won’t have to do it as often.
Pay and benefits
Jobber released a report in 2022 that the average U.S. landscaper’s salary was $14.62 per hour. Research also found that the average hourly rate in January 2023 was only $14.91 per hour. For comparison, the average national salary for fast food workers is $17.20/hour, $2.29 per hour higher than landscapers. Warehouse workers and general laborers also make more hourly.
Quit saying people don’t want to work because they’ll work where they get paid. So, let’s start paying them. You’ve got to offer pay and benefits such as health insurance, profit sharing and retirement that are competitive with other industries sharing similar physicality and potential for injury. Look at general laborers, warehouse workers or unskilled construction workers in your market for comparison. If you’re still unsure, use the living wage calculator to determine what a family in your area needs to survive.
There’s a massive crossover between good marketing and good recruiting. Good marketers seek to understand their customers. They craft messaging and experiences that attract those ideal customers. If you have rock stars on your team now, conduct stay interviews with them and find out what makes them tick. Collate all that data from all your highest-performing team members to discover what they have in common. Then, write job descriptions and create application processes that they’d enjoy. Ask them to help you create these experiences. Get their feedback on the job listings and language on the website. When you deeply understand who is attracted to your company, you’ll attract more like-minded people.