Quit Making the Labor Crunch Worse!

Part 6: How do I get new employees acclimated to the company and performing in the least amount of time?

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There are only two types of orientation in the workplace—occupational and organizational. Occupational is nothing more that people identifying with a trade. People see themselves as landscapers or architects, and are happy as long as they get to do the job. Organizational orientation means identifying with the company, implying people care more about whom they work with.

This should beg the question, so what?

Understanding this psychological identification can be a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining talent. Given the hiring challenges of landscaping companies, this makes the case for recruiting a career, not a job. Instead of looking for warm bodies, what if you hired people who wanted to work outside with their hands and helped them create a career?

If you hired correctly, onboarding should close the deal on that career. The usual method of onboarding is to put new employees to work immediately. Avoid this and start here:

 Greet them and spend a few minutes expressing your appreciation for them joining the team. Then take them to the individual responsible for their onboarding or, if that is you, get the required stuff out of the way. Have them spend the next 30 to 60 minutes reading and signing the employee handbook, then have them read and sign their employment contract, and complete any financial forms.

Introduce them to everybody in the back office they need to know. Explain what each person does and why they are important.

Bring them out to a job site or multiple job sites. Your goal is to have them experience all the different facets of the company. Introduce them to the crew leader and the teams. Visit their work group last.

While you have a captive audience, use the time sharing company history and your vision for the next few years. Let them ask questions to ensure understanding. Once they get the big picture, drill down on how the company makes money focusing on their work group and job. You may never get another chance to align them with your priorities.

All of this should not take more than half a day. End the tour at their work group and, after the introductions, leave them to the crew leader to start working.

Before you go on the “I don’t have time” rant, consider this: They don’t know jack and may feel stupid bumbling along. If that is the case, guess who may help them. It could be your biggest derelict who orients them. It doesn’t take long for a great recruit to turn into another problem child with you wondering how it happened so fast.

There is two other payoffs besides inoculating new people from your problem children. The first is your bottom line. Decreasing the time it takes from the first day until performance exceeds their check is a good deal for the business. On average in the landscape industry, each employee should generate between $70,000 and $80,000 of revenue per year. Every day employees are not up to speed is dollars out of your pocket.

But this is peanuts compared to the real cost of turnover. Besides the problems with customer service and inconsistent work, you have the time invested to recruit and train. It is estimated the cost of turnover is 10 percent of yearly wages. If you are paying $13 an hour for a 40-hour week and 50-week year, that equals $2,600. Turning over 10 people in a year is the same as one full-time position.

This is the last in the Quit Making the Labor Crunch Worse! series, but in the new year, we begin our new series on growing managers. One last note: If you are in the New York, Cleveland or Atlanta areas, we are offering a one-day boot camp in 2018 that will cover everything in this series, plus a lot more. For more information, please visit greenmarkgroup.com.

William Eastman is a senior consultant at GreenMark Consulting Group. The company’s three-pronged approach to coaching appeals to landscape and snow companies of all shapes and sizes. Its offering of business toolkits, virtual coaching, live business boot-camp workshops and deep-dive one-on-one consulting can provide the insights and direction your company needs to thrive. 

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