8 tips for hiring new employees

Updated Aug 20, 2018

Help WantedFinding employees is one of the hardest parts about being a business owner in the green industry. If you can find viable applicants, you then have to hope they will actually show up and be good on the job. But, there are a few ways to help improve your chances of finding and keeping good workers.

Here are eight tips from Lawn Doctor to find the best employees.

1. Have a process in the first place.

If you spend a little more time at the beginning setting up your landscaping company’s process, you will be a lot better off in the long run. Spend some time creating written, formal procedures on what you need to do. You will be thankful you have such a system in place the next time you need to hire a new employee.

2. Have a paid referral system.

One great way to find quality staff is to get referrals from the quality landscaping staff you already have. So, offer your current employees a paid bonus if they refer someone who is hired by you and who lasts for at least 90 days. This can immediately lead to a better pool of applicants.

Ask potential employees about what plants do well in your area to test their knowledge, if they will be helping with the install decisions.Ask potential employees about what plants do well in your area to test their knowledge, if they will be helping with the install decisions.

When you are hiring, you are not just looking for someone who has skills and experience at landscaping. You also want to find employees with the right attitude. One way to do that is with a more detailed, specific job application than you may have done in the past.

After you post a job and get a slew of resumes, send back an application with a questionnaire that does not just list where they worked but how they worked. Ask them specific questions on how they do their job. For example, if you are hiring assistant landscape architects for your company, ask them questions about your local climate and what trees work best in your area. Ask a landscape crew member specific questions about safety tips for using power saws.

The results of the questionnaire will also show you their work ethic. Those who do not want to be bothered doing this type of application will likely be the same employees who do not want to be bothered showing up at work on a Monday morning after a busy weekend or who quit in the middle of the day without giving notice.

4. Come up with good interview questions.

Have a list of job interview questions for everyone that include specific questions that will be relevant to your workplace. But, do not be afraid to dig down and ask further questions, based on their individual work history.

For example, if there is an infestation of Asian longhorn beetles in area trees, ask your potential landscaping employee how they would handle such an infestation. Again, you want to get a sense of not just what kind of skills they have, but what kind of employee they will make.

References TLC5. Check references.

You would be surprised at how few employers actually 1) ask for job references, and 2) take the time to call the references.  Some job applicants know that, which is why they may actually put people who would ultimately give them a bad reference down, because they figure it is unlikely they will get called.

Granted, you may not get the full story due to the fear of legal repercussions from the old employer, but what they do not say about an employee – the ums and the pauses, the lack of positive words about the person – may tell you a lot right there.

6. Check job status with E-Verify

You do not want to get in trouble with the federal government when it comes to your employees’ immigration status. So, trust but verify – make that E-Verify. This site, run by the U.S. government, will let you know whether your new hire can legally work in this country. It is fast, easy to use and free. Click here to enroll.

7. Have employees sign a job contract explaining what is expected of them.

The more you spell out things beforehand about how it is working for you, the better it will be for your employees – and for your company. If you need your staff to work weekend hours or to be able to do maintenance regularly on landscaping equipment, or whatever it is you need them to do, make sure that you tell them first, and have them sign off on it. That could help eliminate hassles in the future over what is expected.

8. Give potential employees a trial run.

Whether it is a day or two, or a week or two, give any potential staffers a paid trial run to see how they are doing. This way, you can get a real-life sense of their skills and work ethic. Also, since landscaping is a physical job, you want to see how well they can handle the demands of the position, including things like climbing and lifting. Then, revisit the situation. If either is you is unhappy after the time period, you can move on. This may end up being much better for you both than committing to hire an employee before seeing what they are actually like on the job.

In closing, you may find that spending this time in the short run will result in more reliable, efficient employees for your business in the long run.

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