The search for employees has been a challenge for years for the landscape industry. Company owners have often tried every trick in the book in order to attract new hires to their business.
While there’s no one foolproof practice to solve the labor shortage, below are some of the options that other landscaping companies have found to be beneficial for them.
Many landscaping companies have implemented referral bonus programs. Each one is a little different so you’ll have to decide how you want to structure yours to suit your organization. Some reward the employee who brought in the new hire while others provide the bonus to the new hire themselves. Other companies offer a reward to both parties.
Another aspect is how much and how often the referral bonus is awarded. Some owners prefer to meter out the money the longer the new hire stays with the company. Landscape America’s referral bonus program awards the referring employee $100 in cash the day the new employee starts, $200 if they stay for 30 days and $300 if they reach 90 days. Meanwhile, Site Structures Landscaping opts to reward their employees $1,000 if they bring in a new recruit who stays with the company for a year.
Always Be Recruiting
Establishing a labor pipeline can help with the workforce shortage so you’re not always scrambling to find employees when you need them the most. Consider your recruiting to be almost a secondary sales arm of your company.
“Always be looking, even when you don’t need the person,” says Peter Pazmany, president of Pazmany Bros. Landscaping. “Just trying to build a bench is tough. You can’t necessarily say ‘Come back in four weeks, I might have a job.’ But then you also can’t wait until you need four people to start advertising.”
Even when you can’t hire people right away and they take another job, Pazmany advises checking in with them a few months later and see how they’re doing. There might be a chance they didn’t find what they wanted and they’re looking for a different opportunity.
Going hand in hand with always recruiting is improving your company’s visibility. People can’t decide if they want to work for your company if they know nothing about it. Develop a career page on your website where visitors can learn about your culture and apply if they’re interested.
When Martin Landscape brought on their first HR director, she brought a lot of new ideas to the table, including attending various events in the surrounding areas.
“We’re out in the public more now,” says Wade Martin, president of Martin Landscape. “We’re setting booths up now to introduce ourselves, instead of advertising our services, like most people there. They’re advertising their services. Well, we don’t have a problem getting the work, we have a problem getting the labor to do the work.”
Reach Out to High Schools
There are still many who don’t know that there are careers in the landscape industry and starting your recruiting at the high school level can help with this.
Southern Landscape Group created a four-day short course that students can take to get hands-on training after school lets out for the summer. When they finish the students are offered a summer internship or a full-time job, depending on their age.
“The important thing is having someone or people you can count on, that you can depend on at the school system to help,” says Callan Dudley, general manager at Southern Landscape Group. “The biggest thing is having that support system at the school.”
The company also visits classrooms once a month to go over topics such as landscaping, hardscaping, mowing, general communication and soft skills like interviewing and resume building.
If you are unable to physically visit your local schools, you can take advantage of the Nepris platform that NALP has partnered with. Nepris is a web-based system that connects educators and learners with a network of industry professionals, virtually, bringing real-world relevance and career exposure to students.
Landscape professionals have the opportunity to offer a virtual chat on the topic of their choice and reach over 135,000 educators and 1.5 million students across the country with Nepris.
Internships are another way to introduce the next generation to the careers available in landscaping. Offering internships can also help your company’s visibility in the community.
Keep in mind that internships require time and effort to be successful. When you build the program make sure the intern and the company have a clear structure in place.
“Our internship program is an investment, as we hope that by offering it, we are helping to develop future leaders of our company and the green industry as a whole,” says Darby Gilbert, marketing and recruiting manager for Landscape Workshop. “We began offering our internship so that we could reap the benefits of having knowledgeable students join us to learn the business in hopes of them returning to us after graduation as a leader of the company.”