Skills Gap Affecting the Landscape Construction Industry?

Landscape Contractor business owners are having trouble finding good employees. 

Many landscape contractors are struggling to find the key employees they need in order to grow their businesses. But when we take a closer look, is the lack of skilled employees a cause of the problem or a result of others? 

Good help is hard to find as they say. And in the landscape construction industry today, this age-old saying seems to be truer than ever. The ‘skills gap’ as it’s called—defined as the mismatch between employee skills and those needed by employers with available positions—is a source of major concern in the green industry.  We often hear business owners explain that if they could just find the right talent, they could easily grow their company’s revenue by 20%. Turning work away season after season, owners routinely blame the lack of skilled workers as the reason for their flat-lined growth. But whether or not you buy into the theory of the so-called ‘skills gap’ here in the U.S or not, it may be helpful to look inward at your company’s training and talent development efforts for the answer.

According to a study conducted by the WSJ and Vistage, over 40% of small business owners say that the inability to fill key roles stands in their company’s way of growth. If this is true, then why is it that so few landscape industry CEO’s look creatively and aggressively for solutions to the staffing problem rather than complaining of the seemingly insurmountable ‘skills gap’? 

For starters, in order to attract and secure the kind of talent that you can grow your business around, the compensation package has to be attractive. I hear many owners say that they have had a few great managers apply for positions, but that they just wanted way too much money. That says that there is a problem with the ability to pay competitive wages, not that there isn’t any applicable talent out there. I say find a way to pay good talent what they demand, and watch your business prosper as a direct result.

Read more on talent: Sales is a key skill in your business, are you looking for it in the right employees?

A second area for landscape contractors to examine is their company’s approach to employee training. It seems all to often that folks are just waiting around for the perfect worker to show up at their office door. While this is highly unlikely, why not try the approach of hiring outside of the green industry and offering company training? Fundamental project management skills, for instance, are not necessarily industry specific. If you find a candidate with great personal skills and who seems to be a culture fit with your company, why not offer industry-specific training that builds on, in this example, their solid project management skills? After all, the growth and success of your company may just depend on it. Stop turning work away by hiring from outside the outdoor living industry.

Whatever strategy you implement for attracting great employees, remember that recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint. If you wait to find that all-so-important key person when you need him/her most, chance are good that you won’t be successful. 

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