As we do each year, we surveyed greenhouse and garden center owners across North America to get a closer look at the industry. Amongst all challenges, the common problem was of course, labor. In Greenhouse Management’s 2019 State of the Industry Report, labor issues ranked No. 3 in the top three challenges. In Garden Center’s 2019 SOI Report, staffing issues took two of the top three spots on the list of IGCs’ biggest problems. Two-thirds of them said it is difficult or very difficult to find high-quality hires, even after 70% of them increased their minimum/starting wages. Our sister magazine Lawn & Landscape reported that on a scale of 1-10, 53% of their respondents ranked the concern for the impact of quality labor shortage as an 8, 9 or 10.
We’re sure you’ve exhausted all options to finding labor, but here are some ways you may have overlooked.
Open house hiring event
Open interviews are exactly that — open to the public during a specific time. Open interviews allow for job seekers to view the workplace and get a feel for how it’d be as an employee. This can help job seekers decide if they’re up for the job, which can essentially help owners with hiring a long-lasting employee. During the open house, existing employees can offer tours to prospects and give their opinion of the job. According to the recruiting platform CareerArc, job seekers rank current employees as the most trusted source of information regarding a company.
People attend job fairs to find employment and employers attend job fairs to find employees. Sounds like a match made in heaven. Having a booth at a job fair can do two things: attract potential workers and increase brand awareness. Attending job fairs can also save money since you’re not posting on recruiting platforms. Fairs may also attract young workers with more availability and the desire to learn a new skill.
Collaborating with a transitional or volunteer program
Partnering with a transitional program can be a symbiotic relationship. In April 2019, Lawn & Landscape published an article that features prison horticulture programs. The classes offer hands-on experience to those looking to make a difference — personally and professionally — once released. Connecting with a similar program and offering someone a second chance can result in a willing and dedicated worker who holds the job in high regard.
Partnering with a local university/trade school
Local schools can be a great way to find labor. Students are always looking for internship credit and experience to not only state on their resume, but to apply to future jobs. Students in this stage are also eager to learn about a career and attain knowledge through hands-on education.
Getting the older crowd involved
In June 2019, Garden Center posted an article that explained the success of horticulture therapy with insights from a registered therapist at the American Horticultural Therapy Association. While horticulture therapy can be applied to anyone with psychological, emotional and physical issues, it’s great for the older crowd because engaging in gardening and plant-based activities can help improve memory, cognitive abilities, muscle improvement, coordination, balance and more. Offering employment to the older generation can also help cover seasonal employment since they most likely lack prior engagements. It can also increase diversity and add to your company morale.