The largest concern for larger lawn care companies is qualified labor according to Lawn and Landscape's survey of 17,850 lawn care owners, executives, and managers in 2020. It is a problem many labor-intensive service industries have experienced. Newer generations have begun to see labor-intensive service jobs as "beginner" or "starter" jobs and plan on using the lawn care job as a stepping stone to opportunities outside the Lawn Care Industry.
How Deep is this Problem?
Pretty Deep. If you have ever dealt with hiring in the service industry, you know what I am talking about. Great applicants are hard to find and even harder to keep because of inconsistent work, weather considerations, and the physical nature of the work. With Covid-19 and unemployment benefits causing qualified workers to interview simply to check a box or to "just look." It is a real problem.
The outcome of this issue running wild in companies can be seen in every business process. Service quality is affected by a lack of experienced and competent workers. As quality declines, so does customer satisfaction and their willingness to renew services each week. Liabilities increase as workers become more careless with equipment. Owners begin to see less benefit in investing in workers and leadership declines. 20 years later, that same business owner has no more workers, is content with working in his business instead of it working for him. This business owner stopped challenging themself and ended up with a job. This is a terrible outcome.
Quality Worker Shortage is the No.1 Concern of Lawn and Landscape Business Owners
Shocking right? Not especially. It is common in this industry. Qualified workers are always in demand in the labor-intensive service business.
Why is this different than in past years? Is there a difference?
Yes, there is a difference. A big difference, in fact. There are a lot of changes businesses can make to retain employees and reduce turnover, but Covid-19 made hiring more difficult and stressful. Retaining employees is even harder with a need to change to no-contact business processes and the 2-week quarantine when workers are suspected to have Covid-19.
What Makes an Employee Stay at a Company?
Considering that most employees who work in the lawn and landscape industry aren't employees and are contractors, it can be understood why they may choose to leave. They might feel they aren't real employees and bound to being dispensible and uncared for. As another body to fill a hole in a company with no employees. As in the rule in service companies.
How Do Companies Combat the Issue?
There can be a few reasons people stay at a lawn care company. Depending on employees' personality styles and the values of the organization, they tend to stay based on benefits, leadership, empathy, and credibility most of all.
Benefits. One can be the income and performance benefits they receive from working for the company. This is often seen as the only way to motivate employees and contractors.
Leadership. Another option for keeping employees and contractors is great leadership. Great leadership motivates employee/contractors to represent
Empathy. Taking a step back to understand why someone would leave your company is often the first step.
Credibility. Establishing credibility is not easy, but every business needs credibility. Getting it means going to extreme lengths to provide quality communication and service at every point in the customer interaction. This gives employees a sense of value from providing high standards of service.
What would the best scenario be?
The business owner might look at the issue and decide to change the way they operate. Driven toward empathy and business growth and success. Choose to institute a few changes. First are a few employee appreciation programs. The second is a new way of looking at customer interaction. Everything is about the customer. The owner builds a website. Updating google my business and all social media profiles, and decides to use both social media and their website to honor incredible employees with public recognition. Workers are now motivated to provide great quality and service, and customers begin to request service from the innovative company that cares so much about customers and employees. This is an incredible outcome, but a lot of work and effort for the business owner who is already working 60 hours a week.