It's no surprise the secret to running a profitable landscaping business begins by having the top tools and talent in place to ensure success. Hiring the right landscape employees to negotiate contracts, maintain equipment, oversee processes, and complete the work on time and on-budget is essential. Especially if you want to expand your business and keep clients coming back.
Yet the day-to-day reality for many business owners is, often, they spend more time working in the business rather than on it. Even worse, a majority of the workday is wasted juggling administrative tasks and putting out fires, instead of forecasting new opportunities, boosting the bottom line, or gaining enough visibility into operations to know precisely what's working and what's not. It's a frustrating and expensive problem that can spiral out of control if left unchecked. And, while these issues are not unique to landscaping and grounds management companies, the seasonal aspects and high-turnover rate associated with this industry often magnify the problem.
That said, attracting and retaining ambitious, responsible, and loyal employees is a never-ending task. Without the foundation of a good workforce, it's difficult to build better business practices and establish automatic and effective processes. And while not all landscaping companies have the funding or capacity to dedicate an entire department to HR, regardless of budget or resource constraints, there are simple and cost-effective ways to hire and maintain a team of talented and devoted professionals.
So how do the most successful landscaping organizations manage hiring and retaining employees? Let's take a look.
1. Establish the right connections and ensure good communication from the start
For many organizations, building a reliable workforce begins with bringing more people into the landscaping industry. Sponsoring community events, attending job fairs, and initiating employee referral programs are all excellent ways to introduce your company to newcomers, and get the word out regarding vacant positions or future job opportunities.
Whether you're speaking at a local high school, college, community center, or municipal employment office, making time to connect with prospective employees, explain more about the industry, and answer questions helps position your organization as a dedicated and responsible employer that respects its team members and values two-way conversations.
2. Seek referrals from those you know, like, and trust
Initiating an employee referral program can also work to a company's advantage. Besides building on already-established relationships, current staffers are often good judges of character. This means they aren't likely to recommend someone who isn't a good fit. Plus, because personal references have such a direct connection, employees are more likely to nominate candidates they know are hardworking, reliable, and trustworthy. Often times, because of prebuilt levels of trust and loyalty, employee referrals lead to long-standing working relationships. Likewise, excess referrals can also be used as a living file to fill future positions.
Best of all, participation incentives don't have to be expensive. Many team members would revel in a few extra hours of PTO or a gift certificate for dinner. Taking it up a level, some companies even attach longevity and performance incentives for both parties. Not only do these bonuses encourage participation, but they also help streamline the process and discourage misuse.
3. Invest in mutual success and forge strong bonds
Once a new crew member signs on, keeping them engaged and invested in their work is essential to maintaining a happy and productive work team. Developing rapport and soliciting two-way feedback are the keys to accomplishing this task. Along this line, regular performance reviews can help you recognize ambition, reward ingenuity, and call attention to top-performing team members. Not only can these encounters highlight candidates for promotion, but they can also assist in helping your company avoid liabilities and shed light on team members in need of course correction or remedial training.
Plus, by placing performance reviews on autopilot, you'll always have a mechanism of facilitating constructive communication and detecting problems early. In fact, after the process is in place a few months, you may find your staff members holding themselves to higher standards and looking forward to discussing new ideas.
4. Solidify your reputation as a responsible employer
Although competitive salaries, flexible schedules, and generous PTO policies are positioned as the gold standard for enticing top talent, financial rewards and attractive benefits packages aren't the only ways to attract attention. Accounting for your team's needs on the job site is an excellent way to stand out in a competitive industry and set your company apart as a desirable employer.
Securing a solid reputation as a company that provides clear directions, reasonable time allotments, reliable equipment, and the right material to accomplish tasks, can make all the difference to prospective job seekers. While money is a chief motivator, having the peace of mind in knowing they will not have to stop and retrieve extra supplies, work with unsafe equipment, meet with unrealistic expectations, compensate for low performers, or deal with irate customers are all enormous benefits to potential employees.
5. Promote work-life balance by appealing to personal needs
Regardless of the benefits, training, or other perks offered, employers who fail to promote a work-life balance within their companies will find they continue to struggle with employee retention. Reducing pressure, both in and out of the workplace, delivers a powerful message to team members that the company is invested in their success.
When contemplating solutions, it's critical to think outside the box. Although it may be tempting to settle for the standard perks, taking these ideas a step further will enable you to truly set your landscaping company apart as an innovator. For example, assisting your employees with transportation, daycare, or health expenses can be a colossal value-add to budget-conscious members. However, if you really want to make a dent in your team members' stress levels, why not consider offering employees a simple, hassle-free way to view and access their earned but unpaid wages a few days ahead of scheduled payroll?
Instituting an automated payroll advance program allows your employees to easily access funds and eliminates the need for office staff to track withdrawals or manage payroll expenditures, all while building trust and alleviating stress barriers known to contribute to high turnover. Besides assisting workers struggling with financial hardships or familial obligations, these programs help your company communicate its understanding and willingness to view team members as real people as opposed to dispensable resources.
In today's competitive job market, a reputation for putting people first can trump a higher salary any day. Furthermore, these incentives don't require a huge effort nor are they budget-busting ideas. More important, once the word gets out about your employment practices, you may find yourself fielding interview requests and taking calls from a large pool of talented candidates. And in terms of the long-term value add, who could ask for better than that?
Want to learn how to take your recruitment and retention efforts to the next level? Download our free ebook below!