While being a landscape business owner presents many challenges, one of the industry’s biggest challenges is the ability to not only find good talent, but then retain the talent for years to come.

As business owners, the responsibility of employee retention falls on us. As a landscape industry executive, when I hear that a good employee left our organization, common practice for me was to ask myself the most important question: “Why?” What did we do as a company to make that employee decide to leave? Did we set that employee up for failure? Did we communicate clearly the expectations of the position? Did we share the vision of the organization and how that employee could contribute to the success of the company?

While these questions are important to ask, we sometimes don’t ask them. All too often, company culture itself is the cause for good employees to go bad or, for that matter, even quit. In challenging work environments even the best employee will be pushed toward the dark side if the culture at your company lacks one of these three most important cultural conditions:

1. A shared and unified company vision.

A poorly shared vision within your company means potentially not attracting or retaining good talent. Studies have shown that a shared company vision is integral to the long-term success of any business. Shared vision culture is integrally important in the landscape industry as historically many company owners or executive leaders tend to not build transparent organizations. The idea of a shared vision culture is nothing more than having a common desire of a clear vision and a succinct mission that inspires and motivates employees to bring their best to the organization. Retaining talent relies on the combined efforts of building an environment that engages employees for the long term and ensures that they keep good employees in order to meet business objectives.

2. Communication.

All too often, poor communication in the workplace can lead to poor relations between employees and an unfriendly work atmosphere in general that renders workers to become inefficient and ineffective. As workplaces become more diverse, the need to communicate properly becomes more important. Communication between managers and employees, across departments, between customers and employees and between employees and vendors are all essential to how a business operates day to day. Even though communication is recognized as a key to a successful work environment, companies often struggle with poor communication in their workplaces. This often leads to employee departure. Effective communication is the most important element in employee retention. An organization where employees communicate effectively experiences fewer misunderstandings that create organizational friction between people. The simple strategy of a communicative culture is one where people understand their roles in the organization, work harder to deliver excellence and, in turn, will listen to customers more closely, providing for clearer representation of your brand and its services.

3. Growth.

Pre-recession the No. 1 reason people left employers was financially and culturally related. Post-recession priorities of employees have changed dramatically. In today’s new economy, employees are looking for employers who are culturally stable, offer an opportunity for upward growth and financial security including a reasonable salary, health benefits and incentives for additional earnings based on contribution.

This subject of employee retention is often pushed aside the first day the employee starts work. How often as landscapers do we hire employees, complete their paperwork and put them out in the field to work? We often refer to this as “throwing them into the fire.” This practice fails traditional onboarding practices, which strategically introduces the employee to the company through a 30/60/90 onboarding plan. Employees who are onboarded properly tend to have another whole perspective of the organization versus the employee thrown into the fire. Employers must realize that while there are many important aspects to running a landscape business, employees are what make the business work. Without them, you would be in a world of trouble, especially if you have grown beyond the size of a two-man operation.

While employee retention can be a bit of a challenge, it is most certainly not impossible. You must be willing to invest in building a well-balanced organizational climate and follow the right steps that allow your employees to not only feel that they are valuable, but that they also are contributing to the welfare of your organization.

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