The labor market is challenging to recruit and retain quality employees so finding benefits that cause them to stay long term calls for a bit of creativity. While you should definitely pay your workers a fair wage, compensation isn’t the only thing that employees consider when deciding whether to accept your job offer or to stay with your company for the long run.
Below are some practices that various NALP members have implemented to deal with the competitive labor market.
Provide Better Work/Life Balance
Utopian Landscapes LLC, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, decide to restructure their entire workweek by moving to a 4-10 schedule, which is four 10-hour workdays each week. The goal is to have Fridays off for a better work/life balance.
Founder Nikos Phelps says he gives his employees flexibility with the schedule and allows them to take ownership of it. Sometimes the team will collectively agree to take a four-day weekend by taking off Friday and Monday and working the remaining days.
“Now if I ask myself, ‘Is this a place I would want to work?’ the answer has changed to ‘Yes,’” Phelps says. “Employees are the backbone of our industry and if we treat them well, we can start to change the stigma that surrounds landscaping. We don’t want a job to consume people. We want them to be happy and able to pursue their passions outside of work. I can’t speak for everyone, but it has really made a world of difference to the culture of our company.”
Consider Profit Sharing
“Instead of having to continually dole out wage increases — something that sticks with you forever — we are looking at incentivizing employees through profit-sharing,” says Rob Munn, president of English Garden Care, Inc., based in Rancho Cordova, California. “If profits are beyond our expectations, we can potentially provide some of the additional income to our people. And, we find that the best way to attract people at this point is benefits. I can’t afford to pay more for an entry-level worker, so we offer insurance, vacation and sick time for everyone.”
Create a Visible Career Ladder
No one wants to work at a company where they know there is no room to grow and improve. Take care to create a career ladder with pathways to different positions and list the steps needed to get there. “If you aren’t trying to help your people become more than they are — and that’s something that they want — they are going to leave,” says Eric Chester, author of Fully Staffed. “You can’t just hire people and leave them to stay in their roles forever. Your business will become stagnant and good people will leave. They want to do more. They want growth opportunities and if you aren’t providing them, they’ll find them somewhere else.”
Offer Strong Onboarding
An often-overlooked area to improve is onboarding. When a new employee doesn’t feel properly trained and integrated into the company, they aren’t often inclined to stay for long.
“New employees are graded on experience and knowledge and trained before joining a crew,” says H. Jaclyn Ishimaru-Gachina, president and CEO of Gachina Landscape Management, based in Menlo Park, California. “This way a new employee is joined by other new employees to form a team that experiences onboarding together; they are in it together. Best practices are trained consistently throughout the company. The new employee doesn’t join a field crew until they are competent. This program has also afforded a new job opportunity for crew leaders and has greatly reduced turnover.”