Business Smarts: Establishing a Labor Pipeline - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Establishing a Labor Pipeline

The ongoing labor shortage is a major concern for many businesses in the industry. One solution to this issue is to develop a labor pipeline.  

When you are recruiting regularly, you are less likely to struggle to find employees when you need them the most.

“We believe in always being a recruiter,” says Andrew Dickson, director of success with LandOpt. “It goes from the president of the company to even the field staff. You always want to encourage bringing on new skilled staff and skilled people. Even if we’re not going to hire them today or tomorrow, we want them aware that there is either a current or future opportunity within your company for them.”

Dickson says you have to look at recruiting almost as a secondary sales arm of your company. He says your brand should be customer and employee focused. Internally and externally you should be marketing your company to benefit both audiences.

“Even if a current position isn’t there, you’re always trying to stay in touch, as if you are nurturing a sale,” Dickson says.

Consider Your Employee Value Proposition

“Everyone in the organization must be part of the solution so it must be part of the culture,” Dickson says. “For that to work, a few things must be in play. Everyone in the company knows and believes the Employee Value Proposition that particular organization has to offer. Team members see new quality employees as a benefit, not a threat. The responsibility is on everyone to find and recruit new hires.”

The Employee Value Proposition is the value that a current employee or potential employee receives from working with a company. This is everything from compensation and benefits to the company culture.

Where to Find New Hires

Dickson says one way to find prospective recruits is to go out to where your labor market lives and interacts. This could be local schools or grocery stores. He says it’s not always the potential employee who notices your company, but a family member who notices and suggests looking into your business.

“You definitely want to go to the communities and try to be involved in communities where your labor market lives,” he says.

He says this could be anything from participating in a speaking engagement or attending town hall meetings to hanging up flyers at the laundromat.

Be More Selective

Being selective doesn’t just mean looking for a certain skill set, but looking for the type of employee who has strong traits such as a good attitude and initiative. “I think there are traits you are looking for in employees, not just skill sets,” Dickson says. “You want to try to hire people that are motivated, are hungry, and have a history of being loyal to other companies.”

One of the options some companies are exploring are recruiting people who have been laid off due to the pandemic. Dickson says you should only consider hiring these prospects if they fit the basic standards your company culture is looking for.

“Is the employee honest?” he says. “Did they handle them as they should in the interview? Do they have the drive to come in every day and do the work? Skills can be developed; personal traits are hard to change.”  


Once you have hired new employees, having effective onboarding is one way to ensure you retain them.

“Onboarding is a component that is often overlooked,” Dickson says. “We expect many employees to get out and do the work starting day 1. That may be the biggest downfall. The employee was never informed of their expectations and may have never been trained.”

Define clear expectations of the role, along with a step-by-step process that shows the employee the methods to fulfill that role.

“When there’s no clear objectives, no clear role description, and no clear guidelines on the expectation of the role, expectations aren’t met,” Dickson says. “Frustrations between the employee and employer develop very quickly.”

Dickson says onboarding should be an ongoing process with employees in an organization.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.