Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

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Landscapes don’t build themselves, irrigation isn’t plumbed without a trained workforce and gardens don’t thrive without the careful attention of skilled crews – a group of which have been in increasingly short supply.

However, there is good news. A tight labor market is helping us to be more strategic about how we run and staff our business. In this spirit, here are eight tips busy owners can use to attract the right people.


1. Target your recruiting.
Posting job openings is not enough. The best recruiters are your own employees. Ask them to be job ambassadors to get the word out to their friends, the people they know in the community or at church. Get in touch with vocational schools teaching the skills you require, and leverage job fairs and other events in your community to expand your visibility.



2. Tell a better story.
People looking for jobs are following social media, especially your company’s Facebook page. Profile your existing employees, awards, celebrations and community involvement on social media to show that your business is fun and has purpose. Publish useful content, company news and updates to sell your company’s culture, reach a wider audience and have an impact on the type of workers you attract and the expectations you want people to gravitate toward.



3. Use interactive mobile technology.
People looking for jobs depend on interactive mobile technology. Make sure you have online features in your website and through your social media channels that encourage applicants to apply for open positions, ask questions and learn more about making your company their career home.



4. Use training to improve the odds.
You can teach job skills, but you can’t fix a bad fit. People seeking jobs are drawn to positions that include opportunities for them to learn. When your workforce can do their jobs better, they become more confident, leading to greater job satisfaction, improved productivity and an increased collective knowledge of the whole team.



5. Raise wages.
The best solution to a worker shortage is to pay more. Many business owners might say they can’t afford to pay more, but in a labor-tight market, that thinking may no longer be an option. If wages rise as a whole, it drives positive change in the industry, attracting more entry-level labor and people looking to switch jobs or careers. For owners willing to pay H-2B employees higher rates plus the costs of the program, but not pay new employees the same rate, it’s time to revisit your compensation strategy.



6. Improve efficiency.
If you want to increase efficiency among your current workforce and make your company more attractive to prospective job candidates, change the way you manage your business. Implement lean practices to eliminate waste, including wasted time and talents of your current employees. Implementing this approach requires companywide participation. Look into using an experienced lean consultant to improve systems and processes and save costs to help pay for higher labor per hour costs.



7. Control overhead.
Maintaining a stable employee base is one effective way to manage overhead. Another is to provide training and tools that support greater efficiency in account and project management. This way, employees responsible for a larger workload can be more productive without compromising their ability to deliver. Some companies cut costs by changing hours of operations, going to a four-day, 10-hour/day work week; others replace full-time employees with part-time workers to reduce administrative costs. As companies grow, eliminating redundancies between departments will reduce overhead, as will outsourcing non-critical tasks.



8. Reduce your footprint.
Can you use bigger, faster mowers? Can you replace older equipment with more eco- or fuel-efficient equipment? Our industry’s manufacturers are designing innovative products for efficiency and productivity that can offer lasting value to your business and improve your ability to meet your customers’ needs. Distributors offer training programs that can help a streamlined workforce become smarter about the way they work and programs that enable you to easily upgrade to save cost on labor, fuel and chemicals.


Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.