If you’re like a lot of landscape business owners, you might feel as though there’s more on your plate than you can handle. While your expertise lies in your lawn and landscaping skillsets, you must also manage employees and handle daily business tasks that pull you in different directions. For these reasons, hiring can sometimes get put on the backburner.
But Steve Cesare, PhD, a human resources expert and a “Harvester” with The Harvest Group says that failing to make hiring a priority—at all times—is a big mistake. Hiring should be an ongoing effort, not just a scramble when the need arises.
Besides failing to prioritize it, Cesare says there are other common hiring and Human Resources (HR) mistakes that landscapers tend to make. He shares the five he sees most often.
1. Failing to have “job descriptions”
According to Cesare, most landscaping companies either lack job descriptions of their various roles or have descriptions that are not complete. But job descriptions are the “cornerstone of the entire Human Resources system,” Cesare says.
Every employee should have a copy of their job description which includes all of the details of what their role entails. You need a job description for every job (not every person).
“You can have a scaled-back version of that job description that you use for job postings but that should not take the place of a full description,” Cesare says. “A job posting only summarizes the key points. But you want to also create a description that spells out, in length, every job duty that should be part of that person’s role.”
Cesare says that this should also be updated annually as job roles can evolve over time. And landscape owners should take the time to review that description with their employees each year.
2. Lacking an employee referral program
It’s no surprise that recruiting new people is a challenge right now. But companies that have gotten creative in their hiring processes are more successful than those who remain stagnant. Cesare says that one way landscaping companies have gotten creative is with various employee referral programs.
In talking to landscape professionals across the country, Cesare says the current “going rate” for a referral bonus for a Foreman is $800. This should definitely not be given out all at once, Cesare urges.
“The goal is employee retention—not just recruitment,” he explains. “So, you should not pay out that bonus to the referring employee all at one time. Instead, you might do $200 on the new employee’s first day, $250 more on their 90th day, and the balance of $350 at the end of the year or the landscape season.”
3. Being overly cost-conscious when it comes to hiring
The cost of labor is only continuing to go up and there’s no way around it. But if you’re fighting back on accommodating the increased rate, you’re definitely going to struggle to find qualified workers.
Along with that, you want to make sure that you’re paying enough for the referral bonuses, as discussed above.
“If you are not getting four or five applications or resumes per week, you’re likely not offering a lucrative enough referral bonus,” Cesare says. “In conjunction with an employee referral bonus, many companies are also offering employee sign-on bonuses to new hire. If you’re cutting back on some of these costs, you may severely limit your application pool.”
4. Failing to have a “technological” recruitment effort
According to Cesare, there are three components of recruiting: internal (employee referrals), external (e.g., business partners, community sites, agencies), and technological (social media and your website). But if you aren’t keeping up with the technological recruiting, you might be missing some key candidates.
“Your social media pages—Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—should regularly include content around hiring,” Cesare says. “And your website needs to be refreshed weekly with new recruitment opportunities.”
Cesare says that with websites having moved into the era of video, there is a missed opportunity if you aren’t using this medium to your advantage.
5. Not offering an attractive enough package
Finally, Cesare says another hiring mistake is failing to offer an attractive recruitment package. Money is definitely part of that and as we talked about above, if your compensation is too low, you’re going to limit your applicant pool.
But many prospective hires are looking for more than just money. They also want comprehensive benefits—and company perks.
“Besides compensation, many companies are now offering comprehensive benefit packages and perks like paid vacation time,” Cesare says.
Savvy landscape business owners are also taking the time to show prospective hires what the first 90 days will look like with articles or videos that explain what kind of safety training, equipment training, and other plans will be part of their first three months.
“The leader companies are also developing a visual career ladder that will show exactly where employees can rise to if they stay with the company for a year, two, or more,” Cesare adds. “These types of efforts also help with retention.”