Nobody is surprised about the lack of labor pool available to the landscape industry. Many companies are struggling to recruit, hire, pay well, and provide benefits to the up and coming candidates who are seemingly over-educated to fill these physically demanding jobs.
On top of that, construction has been seeing a labor shortage because young U.S. workers aren't interested in replacing the aging workforce, even though it's a well-paid industry that often doesn’t require a college degree, reports the Wall Street Journal.
There is hope. Here are simple improvements you can make in your landscaping company to attract, hire, and retain younger generations, like millennials.
Promote Vocational Training
Parents think that a child not going to college means that they will fail in life, which is a common misconception. In fact, the opposite can be true, but we need to setup systems where people can come in with little to no work experience, step through an apprenticeship type of program and work their way up.
Bob Maffei, owner of Maffei Landscape Contractors in Cape Cod, developed an Master Craftsman Program where team members become a specialist in a particular landscaping discipline, and subsequently trains others to do the same. For example, The master craftsman in the Edging Crew uses a power edger to cut the contour of the bed edge; the craftsman works behind him, using a stick edger to refine the contour, and finally, the apprentice cleans up behind the craftsman to guarantee a perfect result.
Without a career ladder and SPECIFIC steps to get to the next level, the landscaping, snow and construction industries can’t compete with HVAC, roofing or other skilled manual labor.
Make Your Voice Heard
Young Professional Zech Strauser, Owner of Strauser Nature Helpers, wonders why more adults aren't talking about horticulture as a career path.
From his experience running and owning a company and working for someone else, he's seen that there are ample options for entrepreneurship in horticulture and agriculture.
"I go to middle schools and high schools to educate not just the students but also the teachers and counselors about how landscaping is a real job and one that can make you very wealthy. The true main reason for loss of interest is because of influencers. Our company is trying to fix that.” Zech said.
Use Millennials to Recruit Millennials
If you still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of internet, social media, marketing automation and other technologies for recruiting… you are behind and missing out.
Millennial Addie Stathatos, Media and Marketing Manager at Heaviland Landscape Maintenance, started her career in the green industry last year at Heaviland and spends her days posting engaging photos and videos to social media in order to attract more people within her demographic.
The types of content that get the most views and shares are not necessarily depicting the landscaping projects that they do. Instead, she focuses on showing the faces within the company having a fun time outside of work.
This type of culture -- attending BOMA horse race events, learning from industry experts like Bob Grover, full staff summer parties, company world cup watch parties, team building ax throwing competitions, crew of the month, industry partner appreciation nights, birthday celebrations, and recognition of team members depicts a culture that keeps their applicant pipeline full.
Their video blogs featuring and created by millennial's are also a fresh perspective to the industry.
Stay Up to Date with Technology that Millennials Approve Of
Adapting to technology is a great first start when considering your recruiting and hiring processes. Is it easy for candidates to find online reviews from other employees? How simple is it for them to apply online quickly and easily using a smartphone?
Millennials learn quickly and they like a challenge. Allow them to participate in the development of new services, implementation of new software, and experimental projects to bring out their innovative side.
Luke Melaragno is a millennial field supervisor at Mariani Landscape in Illinois. He's proud to work at at a company that's rolled out several robot lawn mowing machines for a select handful of their customers. They’re also using drone footage to show their properties online which catches a lot of social media attention.
You can't overlook mobile devices. People, not just the younger generations, are on their phones for hours each day. When you utilize a landscape management software like Aspire, you give them the tools they need to communicate with you on a DAILY basis.
One reason young people like Aspire is that it automatically prompts them to tell their managers about their day, which highlights improvements that management can implement in real time.
At the end of the day, millennials and younger generations are just like everyone else. They crave a sense of purpose through their job and it's up to you as a leader to provide them with that level of satisfaction.