There’s no magic bullet for solving the worsening labor problem in the U.S., no single fix that you can rely upon to fill your rosters or add new workers to grow your company next season. Kent Kohn with Pro-Motion Consulting says that recent surveys have shown that 77 percent of green industry employers are having trouble finding enough dependable employees to meet service demands. Another 59 percent of business owners say they need more employees pronto.

“If it’s bad right now, it’s about to get worse,” says Kohn of the labor shortage.

That’s hardly a surprise, right? Multiple sources (the U.S. Fed, Moody’s Analytics, Goldman Sachs, etc.) now peg the nation’s unemployment rate at 4.6 or slightly lower, essentially beyond “full employment.” Even individuals working in the lowest-paying or part-time jobs, workers considered “underemployed,” have dropped to a near-historical low of 8.5 percent.

Your best option in this environment, stresses Kohn, is to attack the labor shortage problem with a 24/7/365-approach using every strategy available to you. Then, says Kohn, “be aggressive and stay positive.”

17 Employee Recruiting Tips

Kohn offers the following suggestions to build a long-term, ongoing strategy to get the workers you need:

  1. Start by always promoting the landscape industry and, by inference, your company as “a good career choice,” whenever you’re talking to prospects or whomever you’re meeting.
  2. Maintain bold and professional signage at your place of business indicating you’re hiring.
  3. Use social media to promote your company and all of its job opportunities. Millennials live on their phones.
  4. Let anyone visiting your website see that you’re hiring. Stress the career opportunities attached to each position you’re seeking to fill. Don’t forget contact information.
  5. Participate in job fairs. Partner with other small businesses in your market (not competitors) to host events to attract job prospects.
  6. Show off your company and the industry at high school career days. Bring along a zero-turn mower and let students get a chance to operate it.
  7. Remain highly visible in your market by being active in local service organizations and helping out (and publicizing your role) with community service projects.
  8. Offer financial rewards to employees that recommend friends who become employees and remain employees for a specified period.
  9. Employ students short-term during their breaks and assign them tasks, such as cleaning your trucks or other shop duties that prepare your equipment for the next day’s use.
  10. Place “Help Wanted” signs everywhere – your website, newspapers, social media, on your trucks, yard signs, etc.
  11. Pay a signing bonus to new hires, say $5 after, for example, the new employee works 60 or 90 days.
  12. Offer “voluntary” benefits to employees and job prospects. Employees can opt into and pay for the benefits if they want to. Some will but most probably won’t, says Kohn.
  13. Keep your initial hiring process simple, simple, simple – perhaps even something as quick and easy as name, address, telephone number and availability. New employees can fill out the rest of the paperwork soon enough after they’ve accepted your job offer.
  14. Be responsive. Promptly return phone calls and schedule interviews. Have required paperwork available very soon after the hiring process.
  15. “Proselytize.” Share your company’s job opportunities to people already holding responsible but often-stressful jobs, such as fast food managers, restaurant staff and retail store employees.
  16. Never overlook women. The number of females excelling in careers previously considered “male-only” (think long-haul trucking, heavy-equipment operation, construction etc.) continues to grow.
  17. Conduct exit interviews when valuable employees decide to leave your company. Let them know that if their new job doesn’t work out, they will be welcome back. Exit interviews may also give you valuable information about things you can do to keep other employees from bolting.

Take care of your present employees

Finally, if you can’t keep the good people already on your payroll, no amount of recruiting will ever get you where you want to be in terms of business growth or success, Kohn says.

The industry’s best companies provide job training, career development and mentoring. They regularly recognize and reward employees who deliver outstanding service. Rewards could be small cash payments, gift cards or cookouts. Have you ever considered surprising employees at a big job site with a food truck for lunch? Sometimes a genuine “thank you” or a simple hand-written note of appreciation to a valued employee is just as appreciated.

You as the owner are responsible for your company’s culture. It’s reflected in everything you do at your business. Good employees generally don’t leave a company because of the work itself, but more often because of dissatisfaction over other issues – poor or unpredictable management, poorly maintained equipment, lack of appreciation, lack of opportunity for advancement, etc.