One of the keys to retaining your staff is investing in them. Taking the time to provide education opportunities through your organization not only shows you care but provides employees a path to learn, improve their skills and move up the career ladder.
“Offering continuing education helps to create a more engaged team member,” says Alex Wolfington, senior vice president of business development for Green Lawn Fertilizing/Green Pest Solutions. “It shows we care about them advancing in their careers and that we are looking out for them as individuals. Engagement leads to confidence and the more confidence a team member has in their own skills, results in taking care of our customers. Taking care of our team and our customers are the mission of our company.”
Where to Start
Because there are a plethora of educational options and events your team can take advantage of, first decide what matters to your landscape company and what kinds of training would best serve your team.
Joel Hafner, LIC, president of Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., based in Poolesville, Maryland, says they make their education decisions based on their needs.
“If we have new people moving into management, we will send them to events based on their roles,” Hafner says. “For us, it’s really what we need at the time to make our employee(s) better which in turn makes us better.”
Hafner says they are interested in safety-related training and well as proper industry techniques.
“It’s always nice to have options of what an employee can be sent to based on their own specialties within the business,” Hafner says.
Josh Flynn, CEO of Seabreeze Property Services, based in Portland, Maine, says they typically focus on industry-specific events.
“The thought is to continue to expound upon the things that are already working inside the organization as well as continuing education not only for certain licenses and credentials but also emerging tactics and technology,” Flynn says.
Flynn says over the winter they tried to mix the focus of their education based on the level of involvement in the organization. They covered leadership courses, decision making and conflict management but also trained their mowing team more on the ‘why’ of the situation rather than the ‘how.’
At Green Lawn Fertilizing and Green Pest Solutions, they focus on offering opportunities that provide leadership training along with job-specific technical training. They also have a Leadership Development Program and Technician Advancement Program, because they realize certain team members are strong leaders, while others are strong operators who benefit more from technical training. Wolfington says they also have their top management attend programs at top business schools like Harvard and Stanford.
Who to Focus On
When it comes to deciding which of your employees to send to educational sessions or take to industry events with you, consider team members who are invested in your company.
Hafner says they always select their leadership team and crew leaders first. Flynn says it’s usually a mix of experienced folks and up-and-coming leaders.
“I want to make sure that they will gain something from the experience and not just going through the motions of another conference,” Flynn says. “This means quite a bit of mixing and matching every year to some of the same events.
Flynn says he also tries to prioritize whether someone can attend as family obligations can prevent even your best employees from attending an event.
Wolfington says they look for team members who share the company’s belief in always learning. They also take into account the employee’s current work performance and recommendations from the individual’s managers.