Start with retention

Start with retention

Departments - Cream of the Crop

Hiring good employees might not be your only problem, especially if you already have a few.

May 28, 2019

Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

© djile | Adobe Stock

As if there weren’t enough challenges for landscapers, it’s become apparent that your organization better be really good at both retention and recruiting the right people. In today’s reality, the employee market has most definitely shifted from an employer’s market to an employee’s market. Of course, most of you, if not all of you, already know this, right?

Here is what that means to you and your company:

  • Construction in all industries has picked up, meaning your people are prime targets.
  • People are leaving their current organizations for higher-paying positions.
  • Studies show that at least 20 percent of your people are looking for new jobs right now.
  • Your organization’s ability to recruit and retain the right people is now critical.

If that isn’t enough, those of you using the H-2B program are learning that it’s becoming more and more unreliable. Additionally, if you’ve been relying on the H-2B program, your recruiting and retention skills have likely become rusty or non-existent. Beware!

If good employees are leaving and you can’t find good ones to replace them, then you have a retention challenge. If you can’t keep the good ones and can’t fix the problem, it doesn’t make sense to go out and recruit more people only to lose them because some areas in your organization need to be fixed.

Try these tips to improve retention at your company.

Listen and learn.

Conduct exit interviews, hold on-boarding meetings and even better yet, conduct stay on vboard meetings. Learn why people leave, why they came to work for your company and why they stayed at your company and build from there.

Build and shape the right culture.

Every company has its own unique culture. How would you describe yours? Does it need some work? Do you have an awesome vision that people want to be part of and stay part of? Are your core values clearly spelled out and lived by everyone including the leaders. Remember, this can either be one of your most attractive recruiting and retention tools or, if it’s not in good shape, your worst.

Unresolved issues.

We all have them. What are the lingering issues at your organization? Maybe it’s a bad culture, poor leadership, inconsistent application of procedures, favoritism or keeping too many “sacred cows” on board for too long. Sound familiar? Identify your key issues and get these resolved!

“If good employees are leaving and you can’t find good ones to replace them, then you have a retention challenge.”

Be competitive with pay rates.

Learn what the true market value is for the people you are looking for and what it takes to keep the good ones on board. Ordinarily, pay is not at the top of reasons why people come or stay with you, but it is now for sure. Get your top performers up to market value stat!

Take stock and good care of what you have.

Know who’s currently on board and what performance and potential levels they possess. Rate and rank your team members. Get a sense of priority of who you need to focus on and know what is needed to keep your keepers. Identify development needs and retention strategies. Let them know you have an eye on them for moving on up.

Hiring and onboarding.

It’s important to make this a positive experience for new employees. Focus on ensuring their safety and providing them with the proper tools to become positive, productive team members. Upgrade this process now. Include a piece on your culture and values. Make certain they feel welcomed and appreciated. Include and involve leaders and owners. Assign a “buddy” for all new team members to help get them on board and to stay on board.

Career ladders.

This is a great tool for both recruiting and retention. Break each position into three steps or rungs. Example: Lead Person – Crew Leader – Senior Crew Leader. Show graphically what skills, behaviors and results are needed to achieve each level. Once people get the “picture,” they know what is needed to move up the ladder! They can now actually visually see where they can aspire toward.

So there you have it, or at least a good start to answering the question: Which comes first, recruiting or retention? Start with retention.

Always remember that your success includes people at the core of your business. Your ability to find them and keep them ( the right ones) is essential.

Contact Bill Arman at