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Tips for Overcoming Labor Shortages in the Green Industry

Evaluating talent in the green industry

Are you worried about the lack of quality job applications you’re receiving? Is it getting harder to keep your best talent? For years, the green industry has grappled with the shortage of a quality talent pool. Finding a needle in a haystack is hard enough, but keeping your best workers can be just as difficult. While there isn’t an easy solution, we’ve condensed the best industry advice regarding the subject into three main points. 

Invest in your employees 

A paycheck alone is not enough to entice the best candidates to work for you. Quality workers are searching for a career that pays well, and one that offers fulfillment and growth. Here are a few ways you can create value for your current employees and future candidates.   


Training employees keeps them motivated. It shows you are committed to them. If you haven’t already, start cross-training your employees. This keeps the job from becoming stale, and gives them the chance to find something they excel at. Having cross-trained crews allows your company to be more flexible. If one employee calls in sick, no problem! Another team member can step into that role.


In order to attract quality workers, they must see your company as a place that fosters growth. Emphasize to your team that they can have a career in the green industry. Start by sending them to trade shows and signing them up for webinars. These events highlight the innovation and investment that is happening in the green industry. Also, ask employees about where they see themselves in three to five years, and how you can help them realize those goals.


Workers today are highly motivated by recognition and a sense of accomplishment. Motivate your team by creating incentive programs. A common model companies use is rewarding top performers with gift cards or meal vouchers. This is an opportunity to be creative. Ask your team what kind of rewards they would like to receive before you implement it.

“A winning culture starts with trust.”

Create a winning culture

There is a reason why companies such as Google and Apple invest millions of dollars every year in culture building. Studies have shown that happy employees are productive employees and less likely to leave. Culture can be difficult to create, but here are few ways you can work on building culture at your company.


Company culture starts with trust. Clearly define expectations for employees, both what is expected from them and what they should expect from you. Use software to track team and individual performance. If employees see you taking their performance seriously, they will respond in kind. Creating a formal review process will create accountability and trust at all levels of the business.  


Show your team that their work matters. Share company wins with your team. Set a time each month to update your team on how the company is doing and what the big wins were. Don’t be afraid to let loose for and celebrate with your team. By keeping employees updated on the progress the company is making, it shows them how their role fits the bigger picture.


Finally, you must protect your company culture. The fastest way to disengage employees is by failing to address issues and letting negativity fester. If an employee is the source of negativity in your company, then it can be better to release them than jeopardize team morale. By being decisive and resolving issues quickly, you will show your team that you are listening and care about their work experience. This will only build on the trust you’ve established.

“Trust Your team enough to make mistakes.”

Empower your employees 

The best way to engage your employees is to empower them. Too often owners believe that they need to manage every aspect of the business. Empowering your employees means giving them input and influence over their work. Where exactly do you begin?


The best place to begin is by allowing your employees to make decisions at the crew level. This doesn’t mean you give up all control. Instead, trust your crew leaders to be able to make decisions on the job site. You shouldn’t have to micromanage. Micromanaging will leave both you and your team frustrated. 


In conjunction with allowing crews to make decisions, you also need to trust them enough to allow them to fail. Failure is an important part of the growth process. Your teams will learn not only how to operate when things are going well, but they’ll also build resolve when things go wrong. Letting them learn from their mistakes will increase their engagement, not hinder it. 


Lastly, involve your team in the decision making process. Allow them the opportunity to give their input on aspects of the business. Listening to your employees shows that you value them and their opinions. For example, if you’re thinking about upgrading equipment or technology, let your crews test out the equipment and give feedback. Another example would be sending out surveys periodically asking where they feel the strengths and weaknesses of the company are. 


While the shortage of quality candidates in the green industry represents a challenge, there are also many opportunities. We must evolve and change the perception people have of a career in the green industry. To change external perceptions, you must first change the internal. Empower your employees to make decisions. Invest in them and show them they are valued. Create a culture that reflects opportunity and growth.


6 Steps to Creating a Culture of Leaders –

Retain the Right Employees –

Noel Boyer – Branch and People Management – Green Industry Perspectives Podcast

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