Is your business attractive to future employees?

Is your business attractive to future employees?

At Cultivate’22, John Kennedy shared how garden centers can become sought-after, attractive job prospects for potential hires, along with tips to retain star employees.

July 20, 2022

According to recent data presented by John Kennedy, owner of John Kennedy Consulting, 70% of full-time employees are considering quitting their jobs. In addition, he said that 79% of job seekers believe they can make more money by switching jobs than staying put in the current market. In the wake of The Great Resignation, these stats are a wake-up call for garden centers to check their organizations' health, and it all starts with attractive company culture.

At his Cultivate’22 session, “Plant Your People: Attraction,” Kennedy shared some ways garden centers can become appealing to job-seekers, and it starts with some introspection from the top down.

“There's wisdom in contemplating asking your team how your culture currently is — and is it one that wants to be attractive? Does your team welcome other folks to come work on your team?” Kennedy asked. He said that company core values significantly impact culture, and if management isn’t following core values, employees won’t either. Here are some ways IGCs can transform their culture and get more applications in the door:

1). Meet people where they are.
Gone are the days of job fairs. Now, applicants search for jobs on social media through their friends or other circles of influence. Often, their first point of contact with a company is through the HR department — which may not always feel authentic, Kennedy said. Instead, current employees should be a garden center’s best job referral. IGCs should also follow industry innovators and take inspiration from key players to meet these people where they are. For example, garden centers can make a short, introductory “Why work for us?” video and post it on social media to pull job seekers’ attention.

2) Offer flexible schedules and work-life balance.
From full-time millennials to part-time retirees, everyone desires a flexible work environment. There might be a diverse age range of job seekers, but they all want the same thing: work-life balance. For millennials, create a social media post that highlight the company culture, not the day-to-day duties of the job. Many future employees are customers who have retired — get them in the door by posting a flyer for part-time fulfillment while highlighting flexible work hours so they can still see their grandchildren after work. He said it might be a pain on the backend to craft flexible schedules for every employee, but your retainment rate will be higher.

4). It’s not always about money.
Star employees often leave to accept a high-earning role with another company — and that’s OK, Kennedy said. Many employees feel motivated solely by higher paychecks, but they often find the job doesn’t suit them or isn’t fulfilling. Kennedy stressed the importance of “leaving the door open” for these employees to return if they wish. Don’t let your ego get in the way, he said. Instead, welcome them back and be willing to renegotiate a higher pay. Then, if they come back to your garden center, work with them to keep them there.

5). Don’t just look for talent when you need it.

Businesses must constantly search for talented individuals to stay competitive, not just when they need to fill open spots. Plus, it keeps current employees striving to do their best. Kennedy cited Charlie Hall’s State of the Industry address, noting that there are 11 million jobs available and 5 million people to fill these jobs.

“COVID amplified negative workplaces. If you were in a negative workplace and then were asked to do more in a negative workplace, a lot of folks said, 'yeah, you know, I've been meaning to get out of here for a while" and then they left," he said. The talent is out there (especially now), but businesses should always look for new opportunities with new people.

6). Hire on attitude, not aptitude

Kennedy mapped out four types of characterizations amongst potential hires, which are:

  1. Willing/able
  2. Willing/unable
  3. Unwilling/unable
  4. Unwilling/able

According to Kennedy, aptitude shouldn’t be a barrier to hiring or even an immediate green flag. Instead, it all boils down to attitude. He said a good attitude, approachable disposition and a personality style that communicates well trumps aptitude every time. But sometimes, people overlook these qualities and focus on ability, which Kennedy cautioned against.

Skillsets are rendered useless if employees aren’t willing to learn and work. Retailers should focus on the willing/able and willing/unable attitude and aptitude traits because training is always an option with the latter. Kennedy said that what you can't train is a good attitude and a willingness to have an open mind and be intellectually curious.

7). Revamp your interview questions

Kennedy said that when scouting new employees, interview questions shouldn’t necessarily focus on the job skills. Instead, ask, “What are you passionate about?” or “Tell us the most important thing to you regarding your work relationships.” These questions will show how well they fit into your garden center’s culture. Additionally, Kennedy recommended that more than one person be involved in the interview process and suggested that retailers have a score sheet they can compare with each other. Often, interviewers can hold positive or negative biases, which is why an unbiased score card ranking specific personality traits can be an excellent way to remain impartial.

8). What’s your BHAG?

A BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, is something all garden centers should try to identify, Kennedy said. Doing so will help you discover what makes your company attractive to applicants. One example of a BHAG might be an IGC’s hiring, onboarding and retention process. Here are three guiding questions IGCs can reflect upon to create their own BHAGs:

  1. What can make you the best in the world?
  2. What are you deeply passionate about?
  3. What drives your economic engine?

According to Kennedy, it all boils down to putting care in your people. "If you do right by your plants, they will grow and they stay and they will thrive. We should adopt the same mindset in relationship to our people," he said.