Words of Wilson features a rotating panel of consultants from Bruce Wilson & Company, a landscape consulting firm.

In one of the strongest economies and labor shortages in recent memory, we are seeing an increased strategic focus on landscape companies investing to differentiate their brand by becoming an employer of choice.

There’s good reason why this is a high priority.

With more jobs available than workers to fill them, a one-size fits all approach to hiring and retaining will miss the mark. Today’s employees want choices, value and buy-in so getting the basics right is a must.

Companies in our industry that achieve employers of choice status benefit exponentially. They report having increased loyalty, motivated teams, greater productivity, the ability to attract other like-minded talent and showing increased profitability. More importantly, these companies overwhelmingly acknowledge that having engaged employees leads to engaged customers, increased customer service satisfaction and increased profitability.

Establishing your landscape company as an employer of choice should be a strategic imperative for 2020. If this goal is on deck for you, here are three ways to make it deliver:


In an economy where top candidates hold all the cards, your best employees are your best recruiters. Consider finder fees as incentives for employees to recruit their friends or graduated incentives once onboard. The technique works without paying fees also. Some companies are tying incentives for new employees to stay beyond a single season. Generally whatever fees are paid are a good investment, especially the retention piece.

Social media platforms are dynamic channels to showcase your company’s best stories, news and personality and are zero-to-low cost options for posting job openings. Less direct but no less important is leveraging positive public relations that reinforces your workplace story and a culture of innovation and dynamism.


Managing for retention can be subjective among any group of employees who vary in their feelings about why they like their job. One thing, however, stands out. Create an exceptional work experience culture that aligns with the mission and values of your company, and demonstrate to your employees every day that your company cares about them. Creating this type of culture requires making culture an organizational priority, not just an HR program.

The primary reason people quit their jobs is because of their boss. In other words, people leave managers, not companies, so work with managers to develop them as better leaders.

Other tactics to improve job satisfaction is a process to manage and monitor workloads, offer flexible scheduling and career path opportunities, encourage earned vacation time and host recognition and company events.


The extent to which employees feel emotionally and intellectually committed to your organization’s success and work towards achieving your goals, while simultaneously finding value and purpose value in their own work will increase your organization’s competitiveness and value.

From my experience, many employees working across our industry are somewhere between engaged and disengaged. In contrast, those companies out in front of this issue have developed strong market brands that set them apart. Their secret? They’ve made their employees part of the process. In other words, invite them to have a voice at the table.

Involving more of your employees in strategy sessions where they can contribute ideas and solutions to the company direction gives them a stake in the game.

Employees today need to know why companies do certain things. If they understand the context, they are more apt to exert extra effort. Or contribute ways your company can take on good will initiatives and community improvement initiatives.

Labor shortage is an opportunity to protect your talent and develop a more engaged workplace. As history has proven over and over again, there are winners in every economic cycle. The top tier companies that surf economic currents with the best results are the ones with the tightest ship. L&L

Contact Bruce Wilson at bwilson@giemedia.com