We have all felt the labor shortage in our own communities the last few years. Within our industry, finding skilled labor continues to be a challenge, with 35% of contractors reporting turning down work due to shortages. Couple this with the constant pressure of time and high demand from customers, company leaders are left in a tough situation.
To help combat these challenges, leaders should prioritize their current employee base, ensuring their company is one that will attract and keep top talent. However, with crews constantly traveling to different jobsites with little downtime for training, meeting employees where they are can prove difficult. This is why we must build a culture of learning and lean on technology to bolster our personal and professional development efforts.
Investing in employees has a direct line to driving company growth; and leadership should focus on enabling every employee to be successful by developing a robust employee journey. According to McKinsey & Company, providing excellent employee experience requires, “a company to put its workers first by exploring and responding to how they view their employee journeys, then delivering tailored interventions that focus on critical moments that matter to maximize satisfaction, performance and productivity. In doing so, companies can become more inspiring, collaborative and centered on creating an experience that is meaningful and enjoyable.”
The first step to achieve an employee-centric organization is aligning company values with the employee and customer experience. Apart from products or services, it is important to focus on leveraging organizational resources to create opportunities for everyone; instill a mindset that success is shared success; and encourage a culture that puts the team first, and focuses on growth and achieving goals as a team.
This kind of ideal should be ingrained into the leadership of the company, and can be achieved by providing the right tools to ensure employees do not remain stagnant and continue to progress, learn and grow.
Integrate technology and tools
Training is important and foundational to success – especially in an industry that is constantly innovating the equipment and products used to build thoughtful outdoor spaces. Research shows that individuals who have a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level; however, this may not be realistic in the design and installation industry without the use of technology to connect with employees directly and often.
Focusing on technology has not always been the norm for our industry, with 86% of landscape businesses having less than 5% of their budgets allocated to software. However, integrating technology into your business processes could prove beneficial for long-term growth, while also saving time and money.
To support continuous learning, technology allows you to present a constant flow of learning content tailored to your employees’ upskilling opportunities, with making resources available 24/7, no matter where they are located. Companies can provide access to various types of virtual and micro learning opportunities to cater to their diverse workforce – from manufacturer-hosted webinars to industry podcasts and articles to micro learning courses – as well as list more traditional hands-on learning opportunities.
Training a team that understands the latest techniques, best practices and products will only improve your bottom line. However, this training should be easily accessible and effective to fit seamlessly into your employees’ already busy schedules. For example, we prioritize a culture of learning through our System Pavers University, which includes both instructor-led and on-demand learning opportunities for sales, construction and management roles. In addition, we offer 1:1 coaching for our new sales associates and constant mentoring opportunities. Through those programs, we have seen people achieve greater success faster.
Retain your crews
In today’s world, where recruiting and retaining is a top goal, prospective employees have the power to pick a company that best supports their needs. Implement programs now that build a culture of continuous learning for the employees you are looking to hire. Low employee turnover rates and an employee base that is excited to tell others about their experience will give you the competitive edge you need to recruit and retain top talent.
Ahmad Roowala is Chief Technology Officer at System Pavers.