This takes us to our second topic - how is today’s workforce different from earlier generations? One of the main differences is with the rise of social media many of the younger generation are more affiliation driven than earlier groups. The opinion of others is critical and has implications for how they act on the job, but also drives who they pick for employment. The social contribution of current or future employers matters.
Our research shows the number one factor for choosing an employer with people under 30 its reputation in the community. This also extends to the industry and your challenge - how is your company or the landscape industry perceived in your community?
The key question. Is working in landscaping a manual labor job requiring a strong back and weak mind, or a profession where you work outside with your hands and use your talent to make an impact? Both are accurate descriptions of the industry - what matters is how the landscape owner defines it and runs their business. Who are you attracting?
Here are 3 major factors impacting their perception of potential employers:
I am not suggesting that pay and benefits and growth are not important because it is - but if your focus is here, you are trying to win a battle that cannot be won. Most small landscape businesses lack the resources (read MARGINS) to compete in a bidding war. Besides you are buying employees - is that who you want to attract? The same thing that drew you to the industry will draw them - make the case!
The third topic expands on “who you are attracting” by focusing in on their orientation. What I mean by orientation is where are their loyalties - commitment to a profession or to an organization? How you onboard new people to the organization is critical. I experienced this first hand. While Chief of a Leadership and Management School in the Coast Guard, I served on an officer retention panel. We were suffering an exodus of pilots at the 12 year mark. The reason, they were pilots first and Coast Guard Officers second. After 12 years the only thing they flew was a desk and didn’t care whether their uniforms were Coast Guard or Delta blue as long as their office was a cockpit.
Here is my point. It is tougher in the short term and smarter in the long term to bring in somebody without skills who shares your passion. They learn the industry and become professionals because you taught them and your company becomes their commitment.
The 2 types of employment orientation:
There is nothing wrong with bringing in landscape professionals for specific jobs but never forget their orientation or commitment is not your company, it is to their skills. That means the second somebody offers a better position - they are gone.
When you bring in new people, put your emphasis on the company’s vision, mission, and values. Have them understand where the company is headed and the part they play. Then take them through a development plan to move them from where they are to landscape professionals.
My quick tip is this, because you are a small business - hire people who are achievement driven, who have your drive to get things done. Second expand how you see the company and make it a force in the local community. One or two small projects you can showcase is essential to grab the attention of the 20-30 population. Last - look for attitude, not skills. You can train skills, attitude is a long term project. Hire people that will appreciate what they learn. If you can’t keep them, and you won’t keep the good ones - they will become competitors, establish a reputation for growing great landscapers.
One last thought - where are you on employee ownership? What if you had a reputation for giving great employees a piece of the action. Might the good ones stay?
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