Strategies for Dealing with Landscaping Labor Shortages - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Strategies for Dealing with Landscaping Labor Shortages

Guest Post

One of the strange results we’ve seen in the post-pandemic economy is an overall labor shortage affecting virtually every industry. This includes manufacturing, technology, and the service industry especially.

If you run a landscaping company, you’re likely already familiar with this labor shortage and have been seeing it for some time. Unfortunately, it hasn’t shown any signs of easing, as national unemployment is still low across virtually all industries.

This means employers need to get creative and implement strategies they may not have considered before so they can attract the best talent from a shrinking pool of possible candidates.

In this article, we’ll show you some strategies to overcome these labor shortages and make sure you can attract the talent necessary to service your clients and grow your business this year and beyond.

Causes Of Labor Shortage

There are believed to be many factors causing the labor shortage in landscaping. First and most important is simply the overall low unemployment in the country right now. Job seekers have options and that just makes it harder for every business to attract talent.

Next, there is some evidence that there is less interest in entering the horticulture field. So the number of overall industry-specific applicants is lower as well. However, the need for horticultural services is growing. So this creates an imbalance and a shortage of workers.

Despite the reasons, landscaping companies need to navigate this new era of labor troubles, and below we’ll give you some proven tips to do just that.

Examine Your Wages and Compensation

Business owners generally don’t like to hear this, but it may be time to raise your wages if necessary. A competitive labor market means you have to position your business as a better alternative for potential landscaping job seekers.

This will be different for every area, so some research may be needed. To begin, look around your local area and determine the similar jobs being offered by other companies. Compare jobs that are similar to what you are looking for.

Examine what those other jobs pay and make sure your wages are competitive. You may be surprised to find that only a small increase is enough to make a psychological difference when a job seeker is deciding to apply or not.

Most job seekers have a set pay threshold in their minds when searching for a job. If a job pays below that, they will likely skip over it. So make sure you aren’t offering a pay rate just under the threshold for job seekers in your area and industry.

Consider Bonuses

Bonuses are also a great way to attract new employees. These bonuses can fall into a few different categories. For starters, you can consider hiring bonuses that are paid after a certain amount of time of employment. For example, $250 or $500 after 90 days.

This may seem like an extra cost but think of it like an investment. The time you are going without the necessary employees may mean you’re also losing jobs or not servicing your current clients. So money spent on bonuses will turn out to be a wise investment if it lands quality team members.

Next are bonuses that can be made during employment and are related to specific goals or metrics that an employee can meet. An example is there may be a bonus for every five upsells of an additional service to an existing client that an employee makes.

These all have to be tailored to your own business and fee structure, but offering clear incentives is a way to boost your own bottom line and improve wages and hiring at the same time.

Use Every Online Job Board

There are so many job boards out there that it’s hard to keep track of them all. But when searching for workers in a competitive labor market, you want to cast the widest net possible.

This means making sure your job is posted on every job board. This can be time-consuming if done manually, so consider using a site like Indeed, which has thousands of partner publishers across the internet.  

This not only streamlines your hiring process and help keep track of applicants but can also post your job to dozens of job boards with just one click.

Use Gig Apps or Temp Workers to Fill the Gap

There are several gig-economy apps that specialize in short-term work, such as Instawork. There are also new ones popping up all the time.

Although these can be hit or miss, it does offer another avenue to seek out employees. If a temp worker turns out to be a great fit for your team, you can always offer them a position.

Local temp agencies may be able to help in this way as well. This will depend on your area but contact local temp or staffing agencies and ask if they work with landscaping companies and workers.

Automation and Robot Mowers

Another option is to use technology to do more with less. Robot mowers have come a long way in recent years and if you haven’t kept up, you’d be surprised what they can do for your business.

For example, commercial robot mowers from companies like Belrobotics or Husqvarna can be used to free up your staff to work on other more important tasks.

These advanced robot mowers can be paired together so one employee can drop several off at different locations and leave them to mow the property. The employee can monitor the progress on an app and pick them all up when finished.

This can free up employees to do other tasks that earn more for the business.

Expand Your Hiring Pool

Landscaping has predominantly attracted men to participate in its workforce, but this means half the labor pool is untapped.

Try to reach out to women with both your job advertising as well as the culture around your business. If you can make it attractive to women workers, you may be able to double your labor pool to choose candidates.

Invest In Easy-To-Operate and Versatile Equipment

Having equipment that is both easy to learn and versatile means it can be used for different jobs and get those jobs done faster. It also means your staff can learn how to use equipment faster so they can be dispatched to more jobs instead of relying on one or two key employees who know the equipment.

Equipment like skid steers that can be quickly equipped with various attachments is an example of maximizing your equipment and labor force. This means one piece of equipment can be used instead of two or even three pieces of equipment on a job site. Therefore, you can service more job sites at the same time instead of having all our equipment at one site.

Remember, simple and versatile will help you get the most out of your equipment and employees.


Finally, make sure your staff is all trained to a similar skill level on the various equipment you do have. Most equipment has online learning materials for owners, so make sure to take advantage of this to bring your whole staff up to speed.

If every team member can be dispatched to any job, it makes your workforce stretch further even if you are short-staffed or could use some extra help.

Dealing With Labor Shortages in the Long Term

At least for the foreseeable future, the labor market for landscaping will continue to be rather competitive.

This means successful landscaping companies will need to leverage every tool at their disposal to stay ahead and make sure they have the talent and resources to service their clients and grow.

By following the tips in this article, you should be able to develop a plan for dealing with these labor shortages and we hope one of these tips will get the ball rolling and start you on the path to finding that next great team member.

Jason Keely

Jason Keeley is the owner of MowingMagic, a landscape company in Virginia specializing in robotic lawn mowers.