The Harvest Group, a business consulting firm for landscapers, will play host Aug. 22 to a webinar on the H-2B program. Titled “To H-2B or not to H-2B? Finding and Keeping a Reliable Workforce,” the one-hour presentation is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT. You can register here.
Bill Arman, the consulting firm’s “Head Harvester” for the West Coast, along with another principal in the firm, Fred Haskett, will lead the online session. The two will discuss some of the major challenges involved in using the federal program, while offering participants alternative strategies for securing a reliable workforce.
Under the H-2B program, nonimmigrant temporary foreign workers spend a maximum of 10 months in the United States working for companies that cannot find enough U.S. citizens willing to do the jobs. Although the landscaping industry is the largest user of the program by far, H-2B workers also are employed by other seasonal businesses, such as nurseries, hotels and resorts, seafood processing companies and the like.
“If you’re dependent on a program linked to the federal government and have to get through all that red tape, I’d be real cautious,” Arman said in an interview this week. He noted that his fellow presenter on the webinar, Haskett, had used H-2B “quite extensively – putting a lot of his eggs in that basket” and knows the risks involved.
Arman said many landscaping companies across the country weren’t able to get H-2B workers this year until 30 days after they were due to start work, leaving many of the companies unable to complete jobs, or at least complete them on time.
“So it’s dubious at best,” Arman says of the program, “and I believe that, first, you have to be prepared for H-2B not to be around. We’re saying you better have options a, b, c and d on deck.
“We will be talking about alternatives.”
Arman said he knows some businesses may be correct in viewing H-2B as their only alternative, but added: “I do believe the skills to recruit people have probably declined among those using H-2B for quite some time. But, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s difficult to find, recruit and keep people.”
Regardless of whether a company is using H-2B, he said, “you still have to figure out how to recruit people, and we’ll provide lots of commonsense advice” on recruiting and retaining employees.
Companies that embrace the Harvest Group’s methods will be able to reduce, if not eliminate, their dependency on the H-2B program, Arman said.