Sweetening the pot: Working for better employee retention

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Updated Dec 8, 2020

Business man standing at a fork in the roadYesterday, we talked about what employee poaching is and how it can quickly affect your landscaping business if not dealt with head on.

While there’s never a guarantee your employees won’t receive a better offer from another landscaping company and jump ship, there are a few practices you can put into play that can help give employees more of an incentive to stay with you instead.

Take a look at how you as an employer can create a company atmosphere that will encourage employees to stay rather than look for greener grass.Tlc Part Two

On the financial side

When discussing the idea of how to keep employees from taking a job offer from another company, the first thing that typically comes to mind to employers is to raise wages or offer more benefits.

As mentioned previously, larger companies may be able to instantly offer more benefits and a higher salary, but this isn’t always feasible for smaller businesses. Not to mention the fact that counter offering doesn’t always prove to be beneficial if the employee is unhappy overall with your company, as discussed in the part one of this series.

Author Michael Houlihan recommends not paying all employees the same regardless of their performance or how well the company is doing. Instead, he advises recognizing performers with salary differentials to help them understand that they don’t have to go to another company to get the pay they deserve.

“When you pay your people right, non-performers can’t afford to stay and performers can’t afford to leave,” AmericanExpress.com says online.

Another option AmericanExpress.com recommends is instituting “stay” bonuses.

“As the time approaches, offer to increase the contribution for a new extended term of tenure,” Harvey Bonnie, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, told AmericanExpress.com. “This can be done with notes, stock options, cash or contributions to tax deferred retirement funds. The investment will be a fraction of the cost of losing a key player.”

Responsibilities and moving up

The key to keeping employees motivated, engaged and actively enjoying their position at your landscaping company, experts say, is to show them they are valued by offering them more responsibilities.Job offer clipart

“If you try to address the symptom as most companies do by piling on more benefits and perks, you simply delay for a short time the devastating impact of the real problem,” Dan Prosser, author of Thirteeners — Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy — and How Yours Can Be One of Them, told AmericanExpress.com. “Engagement is what will allow companies to cement relationships with their most valuable employees, and it’s what most employees desire.”

In the corporate world, most employees long to climb the corporate/promotional ladder. Most green industry company owners would agree that any employee worth keeping is going to desire the ability to move up in the company and do more, as this shows he/she isn’t working in a dead-end job.

If you find your landscaping company lacks a defined and attainable career path or ladder, there are a few suggestions that can help employers establish one or help employees still rise in the ranks if those options aren’t present.

“Most organizations could benefit by increasing efforts to establish clear strategies for how talent will be grown from within,” the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said online. “Career paths and ladders can be effective strategic tools for achieving positive organizational outcomes. They can be a means to ensure an organization’s continuing growth and productivity.”

The SHRM says the following factors can influence a company’s need to establish a formal career path or ladder:

  • Inability to find, recruit and place the right people in the right jobs
  • Employee disengagement
  • Employee demands for greater workplace flexibility
  • Lack of diversity at the top
  • A multigenerational workforce
  • Limited opportunity for advancement in flatter or smaller organizations
  • Organizational culture change

To find more recommendations on how to keep your employees motivated and productive, click here.

Company culture and work-life balance

One of the biggest complaints found in the work world today revolves around company culture. What does your landscaping company’s culture say about you as a business to your employees and your community?

When it comes to building a company culture that invites employees in, builds them up and keeps them content, the question arises: What does it take to create that kind of culture?

For Mike Bogan, CEO of LandCare, it comes down to listening to employees, asking questions, staying engaged, striving daily for improvements, communication and caring about your team members.

“Our industry is unique, and we’re focused on bringing in the best talent and developing people to their fullest capability, so they make the industry better wherever they land,” Bogan says. “Building a company culture that allows people to grow, develop to their fullest and find their passion – that’s good for the bigger picture.”

Jason Craven, CEO of Southern Botanical in Dallas, Texas, recommends making sure your company’s overall strategy of success matches up with your company’s culture.

“I think it is important to have a balance because you can go too far one way or too far the other,” he said in a webinar hosted by Jeffrey Scott.“If you’re all about strategy and operating procedures, you kind of lose the aspect of ‘we live and die by the success and the growth of our people.’”

To learn more about Craven’s success in creating a positive company culture, click here.

No one wants to be at work 24/7, and this is where you as an employer can step in and relieve tension. Right off the bat, establish a company culture in your landscaping business that encourages your employees to place a focus on what’s important to them, such as family, holiday time off and a healthy work-life balance.


While you may have non-compete agreements and non-solicitation contracts in place for your employees, they aren’t a guaranteed method of retaining workers.

“Employees are not owned, so acting like you own them and then purposely restricting their ability to make a living in the future will crush your brand as an employer,” John Sullivan, an HR expert, professor of management at San Francisco State University and author of 1000 Ways to Recruit Top Talent, told the Harvard Business Review.

Even if your landscaping company does have these in place, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them to retain workers. Instead, work to be the company that employees don’t want to leave by implementing some of the previously mentioned ideas.

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