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I’m relatively certain that every recent article or interview where business leaders in the green industry are asked about their biggest challenges for 2017, they mention the struggle for attracting, hiring and retaining enough quality people.
This universal struggle is evident from the large number of webinars, training events and industry consultants advertising assistance with this problem. The struggle is evident for me personally because I have been fortunate to be highly involved with training teams in various parts of this difficult process for the past six years.
So why is the process of hiring and retaining employees so hard? Maybe because I treat the process as a seasonal event. Maybe because I turn down applications throughout the year because we’re fully staffed, even though there are four employees I really need to replace. Maybe because I only hire referrals – without even really interviewing them.
Maybe because I was never onboarded so why do I need to onboard new employees – plus I have no idea what that word means. Maybe because I’m looking for the perfect landscaper when I do interviews. Maybe I don’t even follow an interview guide (Who can blame me? My gut is superior to any guide).
Maybe because I only hire people who fit the mold of what I think a landscaper should look like. Maybe because my idea of sourcing is waiting for potential employees to show up at our door. Maybe because I love to prove new employees wrong when they told me they have experience.
“There are many aspects to hiring and retention and they are all important. Not some of them, some of the time.”
Maybe because I like to hire twice as many employees as I need because half of them won’t last a week anyway. Maybe because this is all too difficult so I just hired someone to do it all for me, which ironically isn’t working out, either.
The point is there are many aspects to hiring and retention and they are all important. Not some of them, some of the time. Think about it from the perspective of a potential hire, which starts at the very first connection.
Did they call the office and get a warm smile over the phone? Did they talk to a current employee at the local nursery and hear about a great place to work? Or did they nervously walk into the office hoping to fill out an application and the first person they saw was welcoming to the stranger in the office?
This is only one of many critical connections between prospective employees and your company during the hiring and onboarding process, which includes:
- Sourcing – The techniques used to search for employees.
- Prescreening – Qualification questions done in person or over the phone.
- Interviewing – Predefined questions intended to match core competencies per position.
- Hiring – The official offer through day one, which ideally is not the same day.
- Orientation – Defined first day on the job to orient new hires to the company, office, etc.
- Onboarding – Day one through at least day 90 with defined touch points to build personal relationships.
- Success – Another loyal employee that becomes your next sourcing champion.
To reach the last step, you need to be locked in on the steps preceding it. And unfortunately, this is not easy. You can’t just do a few steps very well. Failure at any of the steps leads to a greater need for candidates or greater turnover.
All cylinders need to be firing all the time. Only then will you find success, which leads to lower turnover, which leads to hiring only for growth, which feels awesome when you get there.