How I Do It: Maintaining a Strong Employee Retention Rate - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

We recently updated our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website, you acknowledge that our revised Privacy Policy applies.

How I Do It: Maintaining a Strong Employee Retention Rate

Photo: Myatt Landscaping & Construction

For the past three years, Myatt Landscaping & Construction, based in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, has maintained an employee retention rate of 94-95%.

Why They Stay

The company started tracking their retention numbers in 2017 and based on the conversations managers have had with their employees, one of the main reasons their team members stay is the feeling of appreciation from the top.

Photo: Myatt Landscaping & Construction

“Scott Myatt sits at the front door every day,” says Misty Gil, recruiting specialist and company ambassador for the company. “Also, he’s in the shop most afternoons saying thank you to each and every person that walks through the door. I don’t think there’s been one day where either Scott or his brother Todd or his dad Ronnie have not said thank you to me.”

Myatt’s employee longevity is also strong, as 24% of their employees have been with them for more than 11 years, compared to the industry average of 6%.

Employees in the age bracket of 30 to 40 make up the largest percentage of Myatt’s workforce at 36%. Gil says that these employees tended to enjoy the positive work environment and the appreciation from the top the most.

“We really try, especially for the crews, we try to take time to appreciate their wins,” Gil says. “We do that through a crew of the month competition. We have a boast board where we put somebody gets a compliment, things like that.”

Gil notes that they make a point to encourage their employees for a job well done, versus beating them down for not doing something right.

Even little gestures like having employee birthdays and anniversaries shown on their big-screen TVs mean a lot to their team.

“I think honestly a lot of it has to do with it is you do need to show appreciation,” says Scott Myatt, president of Myatt Landscaping. “I think that’s really important. I think it’s also important to let people do their jobs. You hire somebody to do a job. It’s going to take a year just to get acclimated to us and our systems and how we do business, but I don’t micromanage. That’s just not who I am. I think people appreciate that. I’m willing to help train and teach and do anything that somebody needs. I think people like to do their jobs and I think they’re really good at it. You just let them do it.”

Offering a Path Forward

Myatt Landscaping also makes a point to show clear career paths to their employees. They have a Level Up program that informs employees exactly what they need to do to get to the next step.

“We don’t want folks coming in and thinking that I’m on a crew and that’s where I’m going to be forever,” Gil says. “We really want them to know what they need to do and what we need to help them to get to the next level.”

Photo: Myatt Landscaping & Construction

The company recently restructured their 90-day and one-year reviews to have specific tasks that employees need to master. They can move up year over year and each level, 1-5, has a pay range to encourage team members to learn how to do tasks.

“The range in each level is about a $2 range,” Gil says. “It goes up a little more when you get into level three, four and five.”  

For someone with no experience in landscaping, level one skills could be as rudimentary as knowing how to use a blower properly. A level two employee is someone who has been with the company for about a year and without being told what to do they can grab a piece of equipment and get started on a job.

A level three employee is learning how to be a crew leader. They’ll learn tasks like completing time sheets and mixing spray chemicals. A level four employee is a crew leader who is looking at moving into assistant account manager or project manager. Level five employees are assistant account managers and project managers who are salaried.

Gil says they’re trying to encourage shy individuals who are a good fit for crew leader to put their names in for consideration. Myatt says that sometimes the team members who you know are a good fit for a higher-up role just need a little push.

They also pair employees who are interested in becoming crew leaders and account managers with crew leaders who have proven themselves to be great leaders and technically strong. Gil says this mentorship is one of the best ways they see employees move up in their reviews.

Constant Education

Myatt Landscaping also bases their monthly trainings on the information they receive from their 90-day and one-year reviews.

For example, they noticed that plant ID was a place where employees were getting hung up. They are doing three plant ID trainings this year to aid them. Gil says while employees know the difference between a holly and a loropetalum when they get into identifying different types of hollies, then, they can start to stumble a bit.  

Photo: Myatt Landscaping & Construction

“The problem with us here is our plant palette in this area is so large in comparison to other areas of the country, it can be overwhelming how many different plants that we have at our at our fingertips to use on these jobs,” Myatt says. “It would not be uncommon to go to a residential home and it would have 30 different varieties of plants.”

Each time they do a training, they provide a handout with all of the information and color photos for clarity that goes in a training book that each crew has.  

“We give a bonus at the end of the year to the crew leader who has all of the training handouts in their book,” Gil says. “New employees study the book to try to get a little more up to speed and the crew also uses it as a reference as they are doing seasonal tasks.”  

They have had this program for a full year and are going into year two with it now.

Reaching the Next Generation

Gil says that they’ve been attracting individuals fresh out of college or starting their first job by visiting two-year and four-year colleges. They also try to get into horticulture classes and FFA clubs.

“We are really trying to not do the big high school career fairs because we’re really trying to focus in on horticulture and FFA students who already have some sort of interest in working outdoors with their hands,” Gil says.

Photo: Myatt Landscaping & Construction

When they visit the schools, Gil says she likes to take folks who have been with the company for a while and have a similar background to the students. They’ve also had a plant ID mock exam and a paver challenge for the students.

“They’re in competition with one another,” Gil says. “They have to lay the bricks in a certain configuration and the first team to do that wins and it’s a ton of fun.”

Gil says they also help the students study for the upcoming high school landscape competition.

She says they are willing to put in the work to be a great employer for people just entering the workforce.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.