Four Ways to Invest in Your People - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Four Ways to Invest in Your People

93% of employees are willing to stay with a company if it invests into their careers, according to Zavvy. It’s obvious that investing in your employees communicates you value and appreciate them, but there are numerous methods you can use to convey your level of investment.

Turnover is often higher at organizations where employees feel disengaged or burnt out at work. This can be due to a lack of opportunities, work-life balance or recognition for a job well done.

Link Training to a Career Ladder

While training your team members naturally makes them better at their jobs, make sure you are providing them access to the next level of professional development that would allow them to advance within your landscape company.

If you’re getting complaints from staff about them feeling stagnant, make sure your career ladder is transparent and outlines next steps they can take to elevate themselves.

For instance, Russell Landscape Group has Russell Landscape University, which is an online platform team members can access to learn about everything from proper string trimming techniques to business management practices. Each employee has their own account and Russell Landscape Group can track which training modules they have completed.

Aiello Landscape ties their training to raises, where employees have to pass knowledge checkpoints at certain year marks.  

“The employees are motivated to grow and get more money by passing more training tests,” says Tommy Aiello, owner of the company.

At Martin Landscape, they advertise new job openings within the company, before looking outside of the organization.

“We want everybody in the company to know what positions we have available and how you get to the next level,” says Wade Martin, owner of Martin Landscape. “Do you need to be certified in pesticides? Are you going to be a spray tech? Great, we’re going to give you the books, and we’re going teach you how to pass the test to get your pesticide license so we can move you out.”

Offer 4-Day Workweeks

Another way to show your commitment to your people is to move to a 4/10 work schedule. This provides a three-day weekend for employees who can spend more time with their families and enjoy a longer break from their work.

“The team loved it,” says Kelly Slater, VP of Pleasant Landscapes. “They had been accustomed to working 8-11 hours per day anyway during our peak season so the official rollout of the new schedule really didn’t change too much for them. I think knowing they had that 3-day weekend to look forward to really improved morale and I noticed a slight increase on their motivation too.”

This isn’t a change that should be adopted on a whim as it may not be the best fit for your specific landscape operation. It’s a good idea to poll your staff prior to making a shift as some landscape companies found their staff had young children and they wanted to be home by 5:30 p.m.

“As their children got older and more independent there was more flexibility to their schedules,” says Bill Gardocki, former owner of Interstate Landscape. “We approached the topic again in 2013 and there was much more acceptance of the idea of the 4-day workweek. The appeal of 3-day weekends had become very enticing.”

Care About Their Well-Being

It’s hard for employees to find a desire to stay with a landscape company long-term when they feel they are just a cog in the machine. Taking the time to care about your team’s overall well-being instead of just their productivity can significantly impact company morale.

Sun Valley Landscaping currently shows their investment in their staff’s well-being by subscribing to their Chamber of Commerce’s Navigator program. This program connects employees with a Navigator who can support them through anything that might keep them from being physically or mentally present at work. This could include anything from challenges with personal finance, getting a driver’s license, having legal trouble, getting a loan, finding affordable childcare and much more.

Similarly, Ables Landscapes has a Dream Manager on staff who meets with employees every six weeks for a dream session where they discuss life goals, like improving their credit score or buying a house. Their life coach works behind the scenes to help make the connections for Ables’s employees who either don’t have time or don’t know how.

“We view the Dream Manager position as one of the key ways we serve our people, but one of the cool benefits is that it naturally builds buy-in and loyalty, which has led to less turnover,” says Mark Ables, president and CEO of Ables Landscapes.

Recognize and Reward Your Team

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to show your team your appreciation of them. You can do this through various recognition and incentive programs. For instance, Green Lawn Fertilizing has a safety incentive program that awards one of their employees with the strongest safety record with a new Ford F-150 truck.  

You can also show your gratitude through monetary gifts as well. When Ruppert Landscape partnered with investment firm Knox Lane, 1,200 employees received bonuses ranging from $7,000 to just over $200,000 with the proceeds from the partnership.  

“Everyone receiving this bonus was instrumental in helping create the value that we’ve been able to realize,” says Craig Ruppert, CEO of the company. “This bonus is money that is well-deserved and a way for us to acknowledge the value of our teams’ contributions and the essential role that they will play in our company’s future.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.