Steven Cesare, Ph.D.
A business owner from the state of Washington called me the other day to discuss employee recruitment. Like many landscaping companies, the owner remains frustrated with the fact that her company has more work that needs to be done, than that which is capable of being completed in a timely manner by her undersized workforce.
Think about it. Too much work, too much money, too many customers. A paradoxical curse of riches!
We have all been there for several years. Although the problematic trend has eased slightly, increased sales coupled with rising employee wages remain insufficient in solving the persistent nation-wide staffing shortage. With that backdrop, I presented several recruitment practices to the business owner designed to close that critical employment gap for her company.
Sponsorships. A burgeoning idea has landscapers serving as a corporate sponsor of community-based recreational activities, most notably soccer leagues and teams trying to lure Hispanics into their companies. In the old days, local businesses used to sponsor little league baseball teams in an effort to attract more customers; now we are trying to recruit employees to meet those customers’ needs. Similar sponsorship attempts have landscapers buying advertisement space in local Hispanic restaurants, on their menus, and on restaurant staff uniforms. (Have you seen the Nike icon on any sports team uniform lately?)
Incremental Bonuses. Traditional employee referral bonuses typically offer financial awards to current employees for every successful new recruit hired by the company. Paid out across three timelines (e.g., first day of employment, after six months on the job, and after the end of the season or one year of employment), the referring employee receives a predetermined sum for luring a Foreman, Irrigator, or Laborer to the company. Rather than offering a static amount, capitalistic owners are now offering escalating bonus amounts based on the cumulative number of annual new hires selected by the company. For example, an employee would receive $400 for the first Laborer brought into the company, $500 for the second, $625 for the third, and so on within a given fiscal year.
Spanish-speaking Web Page. Several companies have begun to add a Spanish-speaking box, tab, or app on their websites that when accessed, open up to a video revealing a Hispanic employee providing a 2-3 minute recruitment pitch sharing the positive qualities the company provides (e.g., organizational culture, pay and benefits, skills-based training, environment of respect and teamwork, community advocacy, and a career ladder) to its employees.
Density Maps. In much the same way the Sales staff or Operations team has a wall map, adorned with variously-colored push pins, representing current job sites, several companies have now adopted that same framework for putting push pins onto the addresses of current field employees’ home residences. Placement of the push pins highlight the location density of where current employees live, thereby inferring where future primary recruitment efforts should be directed.
Accountability. A growing number of landscaping companies have finally begun to add a Departmental Staffing metric to their Field Supervisors’ and/or Department Managers’ performance review ratings. Failure to reach stated monthly goals (e.g., 100% Foreman staffing, 90% Laborer staffing) would be documented, while at the same time, achievement of those recruitment goals would yield a financial bonus in much the same way, a Department Manager or Field Supervisor would receive a monthly bonus for achieving desired enhancements sales, portfolio gross margin, or job quality scores.
Source Yield. As a matter of common practice many landscapers now include a line on their employment application, as well as a formal question on their selection interview protocol, requiring the applicant to specify how s/he heard about the company or the vacant position. Again, the intent is to gain specificity in determining how future recruitment resources should be allocated most efficiently.
We obviously know that recruitment is most successful when several, not solitary, initiatives are put in place.
Hopefully, by doing so, the curse will leave, and the riches will remain with you.
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