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How to recruit and retain quality landscaping employees

Last updated: 02-09-2021

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How to recruit and retain quality landscaping employees

Finding good workers is a challenge in itself, but once you find those gems, how can you hold onto them?

Caitlin Clineff, recruiting specialist and company ambassador with Myatt Landscaping Concepts in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, says many green industry companies find themselves making small mistakes that can ultimately add up to big losses in the retention department.

Take a look at how you can help your employee retention efforts be more successful, as well as how you can avoid certain pitfalls along the way.

Clineff says what it boils down to is being on top of brand management, which means you are sending out consistent messages across every platform your company offers. It’s important to ensure you are presenting a cohesive image to the public that reflects what the company is about.

Contrary to what many may think, having a polished, easily navigated website is crucial to employee retention. 

In her experience, Clineff says many applicants become uninterested in applying for a job with a company if the website is outdated or disheveled, so keeping your site updated and aesthetically pleasing should be a top priority.

Clineff says Myatt’s website underwent a professional redesign shortly after her arrival. During this time, Clineff says they made sure the site truly reflected the work their teams were doing. After the site launched in 2019, she says they could tell a huge difference in the impact it made.

When she first came on board, Clineff says Myatt had social media accounts, but they weren’t frequently used. Clineff began restructuring the way they used these platforms, as well as incorporating a few more into the mix.

Photo: Myatt Landscaping ConceptsShe began by posting regularly to increase their followers, but she also wanted to make sure that what they were posting would resonate with their audience. Audiences will vary from company to company, so Clineff suggests brainstorming the image you want to reflect to your audience before forging ahead with posts.

Some companies use a more formal approach online, while others try to be casual and conversational, but Clineff says there’s really no wrong way to tailor your tone as long as it fits what your audience wants to see.

Clineff says one of the most talked about aspects of Myatt’s social media accounts is the fact that they share employee photos and use these platforms to recognize achievements and milestones. For example, Clineff says for employees that reach their 15-year or 20-year milestone with the company, she will conduct a full interview with them and post the interview across their channels. She says this helps the world see and get to know the people behind the company.

“A lot of people I’ve interviewed for our company’s management positions mention that they have seen these types of posts on our Facebook or Instagram, and they tell me they appreciate how we recognize our employees,” she says. “That’s been a really big selling point for us.”

It may be a term you hear quite often in the business world, but Clineff says company culture is key when recruiting and retaining employees.

Every year, Clineff says they try to conduct a company-wide survey to see what employees do and don’t enjoy about the company and whether there are any issues that need to be resolved. She admits that it does take a significant amount of time to send out the surveys and gather the results, but she says this kind of information is too important to skip over.

When asking what the favorite and least favorite aspects of working for the company were, Clineff says she was proud to see that the number three response under favorites was that employees felt respected and appreciated at Myatt. To help encourage more responses in the future, Clineff says they shared the results in their internal company newsletter.

Clineff says she also shares birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions and certification completion announcements in the newsletter to help boost morale and keep everyone informed. She makes a point to include names and photos of the featured employees to help everyone get to know each other a little better.

Another top priority for Clineff was making sure everyone in the company was as bilingual as possible, as they have numerous Spanish speaking employees. To ensure all information was accessible to everyone in the company, all fliers, announcements, newsletters and training sessions are distributed in both English and Spanish.

“Anything we do as a company, we try to make it English and Spanish,” she says. “I think this has been really helpful in making some of the Spanish speakers feel a little more included and to know what’s going on."

During a normal year, Clineff says the company would usually hold an end of the year event for employees, local vendors and clients, and she hopes that maybe they can continue this tradition later this year.

Clineff says when implementing changes to improve your company’s retention, the best place to start is with your job posting descriptions.

A big mistake she sees too many companies making is listing lengthy job postings that are also outdated. Each year, Clineff recommends going through these descriptions and updating them to better reflect your current needs. She cautions against making the posts generic, as well as adding in extensive lists to the post.

Clineff also recommends conducting research on your competitors to see what their job descriptions are saying and what they are offering in their posts.

She recommends talking about not only the job in the posting but also about the company. She says this is your chance to shine and let applicants see why they should work for you and not the competition.

Another mistake Clineff says they’ve fallen victim to in the past is being desperate enough to hire anyone that walks in the door. This, she says, is a decision they ultimately regretted, but it helped them establish new hiring and interviewing methods.

Clineff says take time now to start implementing stricter processes for vetting applicants before interviewing them. Even if you’re a smaller company in need of workers fast, she says take time to go through the process properly, otherwise it could cost you more down the road.

Clineff believes that the hardest part of retention is being able to create an atmosphere where employees feel like they do have better opportunities in that company, as opposed to going elsewhere. 

“It takes a strong commitment from the company leadership to make the changes that offer results,” she says. “You really have to have everybody on board with it, and everybody has to be talking about those things. You need to make people feel appreciated and more comfortable in the work environment, but it’s a really challenging thing to do.”

To read part one in this series, click here.


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