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If you want to keep your Millennial workers, you’ll have to start thinking like one. Here are five tips from a panel with young professionals at LANDSCAPES 2018, the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ educational event held during GIE+EXPO.
1. Have an open communication policy. Being able to voice concerns and get feedback is key for younger employees. “Younger people want to be heard; they want guidance and they want career paths,” says Peter Kehoe, vice president of operations at The LaurelRock Company.
They want to be able to give feedback as well. “When people get defensive, it shuts the younger generation up and that’s when you’re going to see dissonance between the owner and the employees,” Kehoe says.
2. Show them a career path. Kehoe does weekly coaching sessions with his employees to talk about where they’re going, how they’re performing and whether or not they’re on the right track.
Mariani Landscape conducts coaching sessions or takes employees out to lunch to talk about development, which is a bonus for Lucas Melograno, production coordinator. “It’s nice to be able to have that constant availability to get in touch with my supervisors,” he says.
3. Develop a good company culture. When The LaurelRock Company started losing some younger account representatives, it realized it had a culture problem. While older workers might view their job as a 9-5 gig, younger employees are interested in more than a paycheck.
“It wasn’t how to get a bigger paycheck; it was time and quality of life that mattered to them,” he says.
They now have a mandatory happy hour at 4 p.m. one Thursday a month right in the office. “It forces all of us to get in the same room, share a couple of drinks and talk about what’s going on,” Kehoe says. “It’s just a one-hour decompress and we’ve seen a lot of positive results from that. It’s kept our younger people with us, to be honest with you.”
4. Develop clear expectations. Developing a checklist of skills and expectations is an easy way to show workers where they need to be. Mariani Landscape has a ranking system that looks at employees’ skill sets and determines their promotions as well as their pay.
“Be transparent and clear about what those expectations are,” says Miles Kuperus, account manager at Wray Brothers Landscapes. “That’s the most positive experience in on-boarding.”
Kuperus says a shared vision and excitement for that vision from the ownership is really attractive. “It might not even be a high rate of growth; it’s more excitement about where we’re going.”
5. Inspire your team. To Kuperus, maintaining a high quality of work and professionalism, as well as a great work environment, are what keeps him at his company. “That, and focusing on pleasing the clients and not themselves,” he says.
A recent survey at Mariani found that employees rank compensation at No. 3 of the most important things to them at work. No. 1 was work-life balance and No. 2 was career growth.
For Kehoe, stagnation at a company is a deal-breaker. Growth in the right direction and open communication about that growth are key. “When communication breaks down, that’s when I would look elsewhere,” he says.
Melograno says the same. “I want to be able to continue to grow and do what I love and what I’m passionate about.”
He says he loves that the team at Mariani pushes themselves to get better. “If you’re somebody who wants to stand idly by, it wouldn’t be a good place for you.”