6 Reasons to be Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business

It’s that time of year again. Time to be grateful.

Time to be thankful for your small landscape business.There’s research that supports the idea that experiencing gratitude can positively impact both your personal life, and also your ability to achieve business success.

Plasticity Labs research says companies that embrace a culture of gratitude experience higher job satisfaction, a stronger sense of community and increased performance levels.

Unfortunately, people are less likely to express thankfulness in the workplace, according to a John Templeton Foundation gratitude study. The study says:

  • Only 39 percent of employees are grateful for their current job.
  • 74 percent of employees will never express gratitude to their boss.
  • 70 percent of employees would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful.
  • 81 percent of employees would work harder if their boss were more grateful.
  • 94 percent of men and 96 percent of women agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful.

It’s Time to Be Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business

The thankful season kicks off with Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday, and then Small Business Saturday, a national holiday celebrating small businesses that was started by American Express in 2010. Cyber Monday finishes the long weekend.

Time to be thankful for your small landscape business.Understanding small businesses and their impact on the American economy helps one understand the significance of Small Business Saturday. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business fairly broadly—up to 500 employees or $7.5 million in annual revenue. Using this definition:

  • There are 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S.
  • Since the end of the Great Recession, small businesses have created 62 percent of all net new private sector jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among those jobs, 66 percent were created by existing businesses, while 34 percent were generated through new establishments. (Go here if you are looking for a landscape industry job.)

American Express offers free resources and marketing materials geared toward small business owners for Small Business Saturday, including custom flyers, social media assets, signs that you can customize with your brand name. The company also offers tips on how to host Small Business Saturday events and specials.

5 More Reasons to Be Thankful For Your Small Landscape Business

Small Business Saturday is one reason to be thankful you’re a small business; here are a few more.

  1. You can be nimble. Sure, you don’t have the budget of a larger company, but you do have more chances to make decisions and changes on the fly. Therefore, you can adapt to market trends and run with new ideas quickly.
  2. You know your employees and they know you. You can create more family-like cultures and work environments because you have fewer than 50 employees. Consequently, employees at small, locally owned businesses have the highest level of commitment to their employers, says a Baylor University report. With that commitment comes less absenteeism and lower turnover. That’s plenty to be thankful for right there.
  3. You know your customers and they know you. Small businesses offer a personal touch because you deal directly with your customers and provide personal service. As a result, you can more deftly solve customer complaints.
  4. Despite the fact that small business owners work longer hours (50 percent work more than 50 hours weekly, says The Alternative Board survey), they have more flexibility. For instance, they can leave for a child’s event, bring a dog to work or close the shop early.
  5. Your hard work benefits you and your family directly as a small business owner.

Being Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business Happens Daily

Give thanks to your employees and customers—not just this week but throughout the year. Gratitute breeds gratitude. “Truth is, without gratitude, we would have no sustained growth,” adds Lori Worth, president of Vibe Communications. “For teams to thrive, for people to connect and for the mind to be open to learning, we must practice and show thankfulness.”

Editor’s Note: NALP is thankful for its members! Thank your employees (or yourself for a great year) to a helpful business resource in our NALP bookstore and enjoy our Cyber Monday specials! Use code CYBER18 Nov. 26-Nov. 30 for 20 percent off!

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Landscape Business Leader: Be a Coach Instead of a Manager to Grow Productivity

Ever feel that as a landscape business leader you have to always appear strong, must always know the right thing to say and should have all the answers to all the questions at all times?

Guess what? While that may be your vision of what a business leader should be, it’s not a very realistic one.

And, on top of that, you’re creating a culture within your company that lacks trust, embraces conflict and eliminates any real enforcement of a team working together. Instead, individuals begin to operate in silos, focusing on their own agendas.

Imagine this: If you share your weaknesses with your people instead of covering up your setbacks, your employees might stop being afraid of you and might actually start connecting with you as a landscape business leader.

So Many Business Strategies, So Little Time

Wes Gipe

Wes Gipe learned this lesson all too well. Gipe, a business advisor at Aileron, covered up his mistakes as a business owner. “[My employees] believed I was better than they were, and that just couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “I had made every mistake they had made, at least once, and unfortunately some of them several times.”

What Gipe learned is there are several strategies a business owner can adopt. First, there’s having superior service. Second, there’s having close customer relationships. And, lastly, there’s running a seamless operation. Those are all great strategies. But having a great culture is what he calls a “sustainable competitive advantage.” The reason being that the best systems, customer relationships and products or services can all be ruined by a poor culture that works against it on a daily basis.

Culture Reigns Supreme

In today’s tight labor market, getting more done with less is standard procedure. People gravitate toward a company that provides them opportunities for personal and financial growth.

Your goal as a landscape business leader is to build a culture that attracts workers, retains them and develops them along the way.

3 Steps to Build a Culture that Works for You

Here are some ways Gipe suggests a landscape business leader can build a great culture.

Step 1: Show Vulnerability & Build Trust. Sharing your fears and concerns with your employees shows them you trust them, and, consequently, employees begin to share their ideas and thoughts and even doubts with you, too.

“I was afraid that if I revealed these things that no one would follow me,” Gipe says. “What I learned was that the more I revealed, the more they followed.”

People who aren’t afraid to be authentic find focus and are more productive. “We moved the ball forward so much faster,” Gipe explains. “We got so much more done when people were able just to put themselves out there, focus on the work, and pull together.

Step 2: Make Your Values Known. Your mission is the company’s purpose in life. Your values are how you plan to accomplish it. All employees should know what these are. Some companies celebrate their mission and values by displaying them on walls within their offices or facilities. It’s a reminder to current employees of the values that matter to them and their customers.

Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Idea Sharing. High-performing businesses embrace opportunities to exchange ideas. Ensure you gather input and feedback from employees regularly.

Foster Culture and Grow People as a Landscape Business Leader

As a landscape business leader, you may think delivering results is your top job, however one of your goals should be fostering culture and growing individuals and teams to keep your company thriving today and into the future.

What’s important to remember is you don’t build a culture; culture already exists at your landscape business, Gipe says, but you can evolve it and hone it or take it from a culture you don’t like and turn it into a more positive and productive culture, as Gipe did.

How’s the culture at your company? What’s your company vision? Can you state it briefly and clearly? Let us know! We may feature you in a future NALP story!

Editor’s Note: Learn how to define your culture, align your culture and monitor your culture from Aileron’s Wes Gipe himself at NALP’s Leaders Forum, Jan. 24-26, 2019, in Aruba. Gipe will also talk about building a business that endures things like a recession. Check out a portion of a presentation he gave on that topic here.

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NALP Showcases Landscape Industry Careers at the White House

NALP CEO Sabeena Hickman and NALP Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen attend White House event representing landscape industry careers.

NALP President Jeff Buhler of Massey Services attends White House event representing landscape industry careers.NALP was chosen, along with five other associations, to attend the Our Pledge to America’s Workers event yesterday at the White House. At the exclusive event with President Donald Trump, NALP reiterated its commitment to grow landscape industry careers. It also shared its plans to expand training opportunities for more than 150,000 people over the next five years.

The Pledge Commitment

Under the pledge, NALP will continue its efforts to attract employees to the landscape industry. It will also expand landscape industry careers through enhanced technical training, certification and accreditation programs, as well as apprenticeship training.

Representing landscape industry careers at the White HouseThe Pledge to America’s Workers focuses on expanding programs that educate, train and reskill American workers. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council; Ivanka Trump, who leads the National Council for the American Worker; and key members of the Cabinet and U.S. Congress, were also at the event. NALP was joined at the event by two employees from member company Ruppert Landscape—Reynaldo Valle, field manager and Jillian Gottlieb, assistant field manager.

Representing landscape industry careers at the White HouseLandscape Industry Careers: Opportunities Abound

Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP, says it was an honorable experience “to make our commitment to expanding employment opportunities for American workers known at the White House event. There is a misperception that jobs in this industry are all seasonal labor positions. While those roles are absolutely critical to the important work that lawn and landscape companies do every day, our $82 billion industry also offers a wide array of lucrative opportunities and careers, including management roles, across the country. We hope today’s event will shine a spotlight on industries like ours. We have committed to not just filling jobs, but to also providing lifelong careers for hardworking Americans.”

Share Your Thoughts on Landscape Industry Careers

What do you think about the event? What landscape industry careers questions and challenges are you experiencing in your business today? Share your ideas in the comments section and help us keep this dialogue open.

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Overcome These 5 Common Business Fears

There is something extremely powerful about facing and overcoming your fears. And there’s no better day to talk about that than on Halloween.

As a way to find some balance in my very creative, but also very busy and deadline-driven life as a content provider for landscape professionals, as well as a wife and mother of two, I schedule a daily workout session of CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. I’ve been doing this for five years.

At the beginning, the list of fears in front of me that included things I hadn’t done before or hadn’t done since a much younger age, like pull-ups and rope climbs, was long. But as I kept gaining strength and confidence, I checked them off of the list and they became accomplishments.

As I continue to push myself, the fears get more challenging, like extensive gymnastics and weights that are over my previous limits or much higher than even my own body weight. And every day, I still feel that tinge of fear, that moment where I ask myself, “Can I do this today?” “What if it’s too hard?” “Did I forget how?” “What if it’s too heavy?” “What if it was a fluke that I could do it before?”

Am I scared? Certainly. Most of the time, I’ve learned to do it anyway. Sometimes, I fail the weight. But other times, I toughen up, stand up straight, face my fear and surprise myself tremendously by lifting 10 more pounds above even the weight I was originally going to lift—something I wouldn’t have known if i didn’t try. And I benefit tremendously from the experience. The rest of the day, I’m focused, elated, driven and energetic.

overcoming business fearsThe biggest barriers to your success each and every day are your fears. Fears are sneaky … they can stop you from even trying for something that you might very well be able to do, but your fear convinces you that you can’t do it. As Gordon Tredgold, founder and principle of Leadership Principles, says, “Fears are complex; they’re cunning, they can be deep-seated, and they are often subconscious, which can mean that you are not always aware of what it is that is holding you back.”

5 Common Business Fears

There is certainly no roller coaster in the world’s greatest amusement parks that matches the unpredictability, thrills and stomach-churning butterflies as those that come from running a business. Here are some common business fears and how to overcome them.

  1. I fear I won’t succeed. Fear of failure stops too many business owners from not only achieving goals … but even setting them. Remember, every path to success comes with mistakes and failures; they are normal parts of the whole process. You will fear people won’t buy your service, you won’t make enough money, you won’t make payroll, etc. When you are a business owner, you stick your neck out, and it’s natural not to want to be seen as a failure. But ask yourself this: “So what if I fail? What would really happen if I failed?” Usually the reality is that not much will happen, so why not take a chance? Fear is mostly just your pride. Don’t worry about what other people will think if you fail.
  2. I’m scared to ask for what I want (the price, the client, the project, etc.). Many landscape business owners have underpriced their services. Imagine what you could be making if you thought about the value you bring and the results you generate, and then priced your services accordingly.
  3. I’m afraid to say, “No.” Requests come from all directions, and sometimes you want agree to them all. But if it distracts you from your goals, it’s best to politely say, “No.” Focus on your objectives so you can say “yes” to all the right opportunities.
  4. I’m afraid to stop. Business owners are natural workaholics, and today’s technology that makes us reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week doesn’t help. Many business owners feel like they will miss opportunities if they take any time away from their companies. It’s natural to think you are indispensable to your business, but really you’re not. Your employees will cope—they might even surprise you—if you take some time away from work for some much-needed work-life balance.
  5. I fear I will lose business. Minimize your fears of losing a client by changing your mindset. Patrick Lencioni, author of “Getting Naked,” suggests two key ways to help in this area by focusing on your client relationships. First, consult, don’t sell. Forgo the traditional sales pitch and help your clients solve their problems. Your clients want help, and they’re willing to pay for it once they know you can help them. Second, tell the truth. Build valuable partnerships with your clients by being honest with them about what you find on their properties. Add the most value by helping them see and deal with challenges that others are afraid to bring up.

Don’t Fear Success

The more business fears you can overcome, the more success you can realize.

Which fears impact you and your landscape business the most? Let me know by writing me at nicole@landscapeprofessionals.org.

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NALP Markets Landscape Industry Careers to 68,000

A sea of blue jackets stretched throughout the Indiana Convention Center Oct. 24-26 and into the streets of downtown Indianapolis, as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) hosted the world’s largest annual student gathering, including more than 500 scheduled events, and a large expo with over 400 exhibitors and vendors. This year’s event again saw record attendance, with over 68,000 FFA members, advisers, supporters and guests from across the U.S.

What’s Up With the Blue Jackets?

FFA is a youth organization that prepares students for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. Earth’s population will be 9.8 billion by 2050, requiring a 60 percent increase in agricultural production. People will need rapidly evolving talent, innovation and technical aptitude in outdoor fields. That’s where FFA hopes to make a difference.

All FFA members don a navy blue corduroy, zip-up jacket as part of the FFA official dress.

NALP at FFA

NALP represented the landscape profession and its numerous landscape industry careers at FFA with a modern, fun booth in the ‘Collegiate Connection’ section of the Expo, near several NALP-member colleges and universities. Conversation-starting yard games drew students in, including NALP-branded Bucket Ball, Giant Connect Four and Giant Jenga. The booth also showcased the new #WhyILandscape career-focused banner displays, a video loop of NALP career and NCLC videos, and contained distributable collateral, including career path information, as well as details on the LandscapeIndustryCareers.org site and job board.

NALP Staff members Jenn Myers, director of workforce development; Rex Bishop, director of technical education; and Courtney Lawlor, public affairs program manager, attended the 91st annual event. They were joined at the booth by Gail Reinhart (Hidden Creek Landscaping Inc.), Melody Evans (Hidden Creek Landscaping Inc.), Ed Schultheis (ThruPutNow), and Lynda Wightman (Hunter Industries).  Gail, Ed, and Lynda are active members of NALP’s youth engagement and development committee.  All worked together to spread the message that the landscape profession is both a vibrant and smart career choice.

Landscape Industry Careers – Front and Center

Beautiful plant material for the NALP booth was again provided by Indianapolis-based NALP member The Engledow Group. “Many visitors said our plant material drew them in and clearly helped indicate who we are as an industry,” Myers said.

“The positive response to our presence and message was overwhelming,” Myers added. “Many were pleased to see NALP and the landscape profession there for a second straight year. Several faculty said they use NALP materials and the careers site in their classrooms. We believe FFA members represent an audience vital to our profession’s future.”

This year, Myers also had the opportunity to speak with several middle and high school educators during an FFA Teacher Workshop. Her presentation focused on landscape industry careers and showcased videos from NALP’s careers site, strongly encouraging those in attendance to provide landscape-related curriculum and training in their classrooms.

A highlight of FFA Convention & Expo every year is the Nursery/Landscape CDE (Career Development Event). Stihl sponsors this competition, where students showcase their skills maintaining landscape plants, evaluating equipment and services, and designing landscapes.

Spreading the Good Word About Landscape Industry Careers

We look forward to attending this event in 2019 and beyond. If you are interested in learning more about NALP’s trip to Indianapolis or participating with us next year, please contact Myers at jenn@landscapeprofessionals.org.

 

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5 Ways To Banish Burnout In Your Landscape Business

According to new research from Gallup, businesses are facing what they call “an employee burnout crisis.” And once burnout strikes, it can trigger a downward spiral in individual and business performance.

banish burnout in businessThe Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23 percent of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. This means approximately two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job. Take a look around your company: two out of every three employees are feeling the burn.

While some may think burnout has become the normal part of working today, taking a look at the true costs of burnout can shed some light on why landscape business owners should try to banish burnout.

Burned out employees are 63 percent more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. If they stay at their current jobs, they have 13 percent lower confidence in their performance and as half as likely to discuss how to approach performance goals with their manager.

Employee burnout can bring on a continuous decline in individual performance, as well as overall company performance.

Getting better productivity and performance out of their employees is the goal of many landscape business owners. The good news is that burnout doesn’t always result from hard work; it has more to do with how owners manage employees, Gallup reports.

Banish Burnout in 5 Focused Ways

To reduce burnout, Gallup recommends landscape business owners do the following:

  1. Avoid unfair treatment. When employees strongly agree that they are treated unfairly at work, they are 2.3 times more likely to experience burnout.
  2. Make sure you and your managers are managing employee workload. “High performing employees can quickly shift from optimistic to hopeless as they drown in an unmanageable workload,” the Gallup report says.
  3. Clarify employee roles. Only 60 percent of workers can strongly agree they know what is expected of them at work, says Gallup’s Stat of the American Workplace report. Employees can become exhausted trying to figure out what managers want from them if it’s not clear.
  4. Provide communication and support. Employees need to know that managers have their backs when something goes wrong. Employees who strongly agree they feel supported by their managers are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout, Gallup says.
  5. Keep an eye on time pressures. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure create a burnout snowball effect where missing one aggressive deadline follows another and then another. When employees say they have enough time to do work, they are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout.

Banish Burnout For Good

Addressing the true causes of employee burnout in your landscape company can empower employees to feel and perform their best.

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5 Ways to Boost Teamwork and Productivity in Your Landscape Business

Sports teams might have great, extremely skilled individual players, but the only way they win is when they play together. The same is true for teams within landscape businesses. Unfortunately, many landscape employees don’t feel like they are part of a team because the organizations they work for aren’t doing anything to intentionally develop teamwork.

Phil Harwood shares five key ways to boost teamwork in your landscape company.

Phil Harwood

“They might get jostled around from crew to crew,” explains Phil Harwood, CEO of Pro-Motion Consulting and principle with GrowTheBench.com. “They might feel like they are just doing a job and punching a clock.”

As this progresses, what happens over time is “the company misses out on all the great energy or contribution that could be gained from an employee who is really all in,” Harwood says. “That only happens when they feel like they are part of a team.”

5 Characteristics that Breed Teamwork

When workplace teams work, they shine. But when workplace teams don’t work, projects suffer, along with employee morale. All of this can lead to employee turnover and lost clients. While there isn’t one secret for creating effective workplace teams, Harwood says there are five things you can do to better your chances of improving the team dynamics in your organization.

  1. Develop trust. Your team members need to trust each other to share their weaknesses and ask for help when they need it and assist others in need. With trust, team members don’t develop defensive behaviors.
  2. Encourage debate. Teams that lack trust are incapable of having passionate, productive debates about things that matter. People that don’t care create artificial harmony; it may seem OK but it’s not. In a company where employees don’t express their opinions, inferior decisions often rise above the best ones.
  3. Build commitment and buy-in. People who share ideas and help make decisions develop a commitment to the company.  Without healthy conflict, this doesn’t exist.
  4. Breed accountability. In a well-functioning team, each team member holds each other accountable. Have progress measurements for each person, as well as the team, so everyone knows what needs to be done by whom and when. When team members don’t know the plan and, therefore, haven’t bought into the plan, they aren’t going to hold each other accountable.
  5. Become results-oriented. A team can only become results oriented when all team members place the team’s results first. Make team results clear and reward behaviors that contribute to the team’s results.

Good People Make Good Teams

“Successful teamwork is not about mastering subtle, sophisticated theories, but rather about combining common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence,” explains Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. “Ironically, teams succeed because they are exceedingly human. By acknowledging the imperfections of their humanity, members of functional teams overcome the natural tendencies that make teamwork so elusive.”

Want to learn how to improve productivity in your company? Teamwork can help! Turn your employees into ones who work together and contribute to your landscape company’s success. Attend NALP’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team event Nov. 28 in Austin, Texas. Learn more HERE!

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Top 3 Ways Landscape Business Owners Can Overcome Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses. If we were all born with all the strengths necessary to run a successful business, we wouldn’t have any daily struggles, revenue and profit would be through the roof and customers would be beating down our doors. Life is about balance; and while we all have our strengths, we must overcome weaknesses to maximize our success in business.

Common Small Business Weaknesses

Some natural weaknesses that you might recognize in your business:

  • 55% of managers are too busy to train or develop their sales team, according to bizcommunity.com. Yet, another study says there is a direct and consistent correlation between the caliber of a sales force and an organization’s growth.
  • Forbes asked 800 entrepreneurs, “If you could eliminate one big obstacle in your businesses to allow you to grow exponentially, what would it be?” The No. 1 answer chosen by 32 percent of entrepreneurs was: “Finding and training the right people to grow the business.” What kind of time and resources do you use when it comes to training and retaining the right people so you can grow your business faster?
  • Sixty-three percent of businesses say generating traffic and leads is their top marketing challenge, followed by 40 percent that say proving the ROI of their marketing activities is their top challenge, HubSpot reports. A weakness is falling into old, ingrained habits when it comes to marketing, such as sticking to only outbound strategies like cold calling and direct mail versus also exploring inbound marketing tactics like blogs filled with valuable content, videos and social media to draw in more leads.

Overcome Weaknesses in 3 Steps

Even though weaknesses are normal, the only way to tackle them is to identify them and address them. That way a weakness won’t derail you.

Risa Mish shares 3 ways to overcome weaknesses.

Risa Mish

Risa Mish, a professor focusing on critical and strategic thinking, leadership and businesss management at Cornell University, recently spoke about this topic at the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Leadership Academy, conducted in partnership with Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Business. She suggests these three strategies to overcome weaknesses.

  1. Get a little bit better at your weakness. For instance, if you’re a poor planner, start keeping track of your time, holding yourself accountable to that schedule.
  2. Use one of your strengths to work around your weakness.
  3. Partner with someone who has a complimentary strength.

No one is born with every one of the strengths and characteristics to run a successful landscape business. Use these simple strategies to overcome weaknesses and increase your chances of success. As Jeffrey Gitomer, American author, professional speaker and business trainer, says: “Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most important of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.”

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The Workforce Shortage is Real … Here’s How the Landscape Industry Plans to Cope

Last week, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, through the Industry Growth Initiative, held a Workforce Development and Recruitment Summit at its office in Fairfax, Virginia, to address the industry’s workforce shortage.

Approximately 50 attendees from major regional green industry associations, as well as experts from other major industries attended the event, sharing their respective experiences in dealing with the realities of the workforce shortage, as well brainstorming solutions.

The Workforce Shortage is Real

“I don’t need more business; I need more people to do the work.”

That is the underlying sentiment that landscape contractors and association representatives expressed at last year’s Workforce Development and Recruitment Summit. And the times haven’t changed; in fact, the situation has escalated.

Landscaping has the second worst unemployment rate by industry—only construction has it beat, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And for the first time in history, there are more job openings than there are eligible workers to fill them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that there are 6.7 million job openings and just 6.4 million available workers.

The “No. 1 problem for businesses is finding qualified workers,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s. “At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse. These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”

So, we feel your pain; the workforce shortage is real. Now what are we going to do about it?

Workforce Shortage Solutions

At the Workforce Development and Recruitment Summit, attendees started by sharing their current workforce challenges and wins. The goal of the meeting was to realize that “while we compete with other industries for people, we are also in this together,” explained Missy Henriksen, vice president, public affairs, NALP. “We must share our voices so we can educate each other and work together to fill vacancies.”

Experts from other industries, including Greg Sizemore, vice president of HSE and workforce development for Associated Builders and Contractors, and Jay Lim, vice president of workforce development policy at the American Trucking Association, presented their related workforce dilemmas and how they are battling them.

Carolyn Renick from the U.S. Department of Labor talks about the advantages of apprenticeships.

Carolyn Renick from the U.S. Department of Labor talks about the advantages of apprenticeships.

Then, Carolyn Renick from the U.S. Department of Labor and industry representatives dove into the topic of apprenticeships and the programs currently in place, as well as those being launched (NALP plans to launch a national apprenticeship program in early 2019), and how landscape professionals can take better advantage of using these programs to enhance their workforces.

These are the common themes that resonated during discussions among the group:

  • Landscape, construction and trucking are word-of-mouth industries. To attract talent, we must continue to tell our stories. This also will help combat the stigma that a person is not successful unless he or she goes to college.
  • These are rewarding careers people don’t need degrees to land. We need to show prospective employees how they can learn and grow within our organizations.
  • Educating children at a young age (and their parents) about the importance of landscapes and the benefits of a career that helps the environment is a good idea. We must change their perception of landscaping as a career by showcasing the many options available.
  • We must highlight the advantages of working outdoors, especially in an increasingly indoor reliant society.
  • Landscape professionals should take advantage of regional and national apprenticeship programs to draw in workers. This could encourage millennials and Generation Zers to start earning while they learn versus acquiring debt by attending college right away.
  • The industry should tap into all categories for potential employees, including retirees, veterans/former military and former prison inmates.

NALP will continue to present Workforce Development and Recruitment Summit updates. Look for more news on NALP’s landscape management apprenticeship program soon! Thank you to all the companies supporting the Industry Growth Initiative for enabling difference-making opportunities like this one. 

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What Will the Landscape Company of the Future Look Like?

There are three kinds of thinking: inside the box, outside the box and no box.

This according to Michael Hostetler, who specializes in teaching strategy, decision-making, leadership, innovation and change management in the MBA program at Cornell University. He spoke at the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Leadership Academy, conducted in partnership with Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Business.

The landscape company of the future looks bright.He challenged the room of approximately 20 landscape professionals to use no box thinking to discuss the landscape company of the future. He defines no box thinking as having no constraints, no limits and no judgement; all ideas are fair game.

The room brainstormed, coming up with the following insights about the landscape company of the future:

  • The speed of data sharing in the digital world will lead to a power shift in the landscape industry where consumers will drive how providers offer services (just-in-time services, sustainability practices, etc.).
  • Robotics will replace human workers due to worker shortages, disinterest, unreliability and fragility.
  • Industry consolidation will increase, which will increase the size of dominant players and put pressure on profitability.
  • Land degradation, water shortages and climate zone shifts will impact the choice of plants, and how landscapes are designed and maintained.
  • Ground and equipment sensors, self-driving equipment, robots and analytics will reshape landscape work and shift production from labor-intensive activities to monitoring and problem intervention.
  • Landscape companies will need to change the skills they hire for, including information technology, customer relationship management, data analytics, finance, brand management, civil engineers, landscape architects, botanists and arborists, to remain relevant.
  • Landscape companies will need to offer integrated services, either through acquisition, internal growth or strategic alliances.
  • Travel will increase the spread of pests and plant diseases, which will impact landscape and design and management practices.
  • Landscape companies will need to better understand their customers and the segments they serve.
  • Landscape companies should lead technological innovations and education for the industry.

The landscape companies of today will look totally and completely different in 10 years, the group deduced. They said: “Those who can adapt, think with no bounds and redefine themselves will be the ones who survive.” -Nicole Wisniewski

Top 5 Requests from the Workforce of the Future

After Hostetler and the Leadership Academy attendees brainstormed the future of the industry, he brought in a panel of students from a variety of Cornell schools, including hospitality, information technology, engineering and labor relations. He asked them if the roughly 20 landscape businesses in the room were to hire them, what benefits or perks would they rank as most important.

These are the top five themes that rose above the rest; use these ideas when strategizing your landscape company of the future:

  1. Company culture trumps everything. They want a culture in which they feel valued, listened to, and have access to the people making decisions. Top down leadership is not something these future professionals seemed open to.
  2. They want a clear career path and access to peers who they can exchange ideas with and connect with as a support network as they advance in their careers.
  3. Future workers want an environment that values and promotes teamwork and camaraderie.
  4. They want to feel a part of a “bigger purpose” and to feel like their job has meaning.
  5. Compensation is important; but not as important as all of the above.

Learn more about NALP’s Leadership Academy.

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