The subject of identifying and retaining top talent is always one of the critical items landscape business owners say they’d like to improve upon. However, when I ask what their strategy is in that regard, they either mention that they’ve found this candidate from another competitor that is going to solve all of their problems or they look at me and tell me the people who have left were no good to begin with and basically rationalize the cause of the turnover. I can’t tell you how many talented employees I’ve seen leave organizations because they were miscast for the job, management style or corporate culture. Secondly, never assume a turnover problem is just because the employee was no good to begin with. Job fit and performance go well beyond just having a talented employee.

As with any business goal, you have to implement a proven process and strategy to attain that goal. Here are six must-do steps for employee retention.

1. Match both applicants and existing employees to positions they fit.

I suggest identifying three to six key attributes required for the position and then identifying whether the person fits those attributes. From there I design the appropriate job description. Often we put people in positions that they potentially do not fit for long term-success. I like to suggest that clients use behavioral assessments and structured behavioral interviewing techniques to increase the likelihood of hiring people who can, and will, do the job at a high level of success in your environment.

2. Provide good employee orientation.

The people you hire today are, potentially, your greatest resource for your company’s success in the years ahead. Your onboarding process and continual engagement with your employee throughout their tenure shows “We’re all involved here in the drive toward what we want to be in the future.” Everyone in the company has value. That shows employees the company is a culture of Purpose | Passion | Pride.

3. Develop a teaching-learning culture.

Implement programs for employee training and development. Provide ongoing professional development to show your willingness as an organization to develop your greatest asset, your people. Develop what I call a teaching-learning culture. This is a culture that stresses education year-round.

4. Always build and improve manager and employee relationships.

Concentrate on the people who stay with you to learn what makes them happy and then give them more of it! People leave managers, not companies. If you have a turnover problem, look first at your managers and your company culture.

5. Encourage succession planning.

Identify roles for which employees may be suited in the future and work with them on designing their succession plan within the organization. Invest in cross-training, job shadowing, coaching and mentoring.

6. Provide an equitable or fair pay system.

Be competitive! Offer employees a competitive, incentive-based salary and benefits package.

It is no secret that employee turnover is costly. Estimates of the total cost of losing a single good employee to turnover range from 25 percent or greater of the annual salary of the position for hourly employees and upwards of 150 percent for middle level and senior managers. While many landscape companies are probably already using all or at least several of the aforementioned steps, it is critical to the overall success of your employee retention initiatives to build a plan that attracts and retains top talent.

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