July 15, 2018
By Myscha Stafford
LO Membership and Chapter Coordinator

Myscha StaffordI read something on Facebook from one of our long-time members claiming that “the 100 days of hell are almost over.” I would say that might be the most accurate way to describe the whirlwind of highs and lows that makes up the spring rush from April until the end of June.

Let’s be honest, the intense spring rush is a critical part of any landscaping company’s business operations. It may also be the most stressful part. In spring, new staff arrive, you have to train (or maybe re-train) employees, Mother Nature is consistently inconsistent (with an unusually bizarre sense of humour this spring), and there is a staggering amount of work to be done. All this comes in addition to the day-to-day business challenges. As you reflect on the past 100 days, it is important to pause and think for a minute on the toll this grueling time has taken on both you and your staff. Your crews have been working five- and six-day work weeks, pulling 10-12 hour days. Weather has gone from cold, to pouring rain, to sweltering heat and humidity. Combine this with the physical challenges of landscaping and this makes for a very long 100 days. Your team members have made a tremendous sacrifice and it’s not even halfway through the season yet.

On the plus side, people in the landscape profession enjoy working outside and get a great amount of satisfaction producing stunning landscapes that can then be enjoyed by happy clients and their family. But when we think about the hot button topic of staffing and labour shortages, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that choosing a career in this profession is not for the faint of heart. Employees are looking for more than just the most competitive hourly wage. At the risk of sounding too much like a Millennial, employees are looking for jobs that have an appropriate work-life balance, an appropriate wage based on the nature of the work, and some additional perks that help make the “100 days of hell” seem less hellish. Companies who can offer these benefits in their company culture are the ones who are not having trouble finding and keeping talented staff.

As the dust beings to settle (not really since by now it’s the ‘dry season,’ but you know what I mean), this is your chance to reflect on your employee culture and examine your role as a business owner to see what changes you can make. Are you asking your staff to work weekends? What incentives are you providing for your staff? Are there potential year-end bonuses or profit sharing options? Are you providing your staff with education opportunities and training throughout the winter months to keep them engaged? Is there work you can provide so they don’t have to collect unemployment insurance? Has the idea of a salary wage been explored to increase job stability?

While these questions seem daunting, it is important to weigh the options of making these types of changes versus having high turnover resulting in the need for increased training of a continuous cycle of new staff.

But fear not, there are smaller scale changes you can make this season. Show your staff you appreciate their efforts and their hard work by taking them to an LO chapter golf tournament or paying for them to attend a family-friendly chapter event. This small act will foster your team comradery, make your staff feel like a more valued member of your team, and show your employees they are more to you than simply paid labour. Full details about the many chapter summer events can be found online at HortTrades.com.

Myscha Stafford can be reached at myscha@landscapeontario.com or 1-800-265-5656 ext.2333.