The Not-So-Usual Suspects

Features - Labor

Available labor is out there, they just aren’t who you’re used to. Learn how to successfully identify and communicate with them.

May 16, 2022

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With the spring season officially in swing, many green industry companies are struggling to get the people they need to maintain successful business operations. Some companies even tell me that they are reducing hours and declining contracts due to a lack of staff. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Here is how any company can successfully recruit top talent.

The current talent war isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to get worse. In 2022, Home Depot announced their plans to hire 100,000 new positions this spring and revealed their game plan to accomplish their goal. Their plan to hire enough people for the spring rush is to debut an “accelerated hiring process” where job seekers are offered employment offer as soon as the next day in which they apply. By responding first to those seeking employment, the Home Depot will certainly have an advantage. Pre-pandemic, 64% of workers said the last time they were hired, they accepted the first offer they were given, according to ZipRecruiter.

For small businesses that wish to compete for workers, the bar officially has been raised. Most green industry companies tell me that they currently take two to five days to connect with job applicants once they’ve applied. In today’s economy, those people will already be employed with a company like Home Depot.

So, what can we do to win the talent war? Move traditional hiring processes to electronic, text-based communication where a response is automatic and instantaneous. Imagine an applicant texts your company looking for work and fills out a few key details on their phone. Within minutes, a response is texted back to them, using their first name, and inviting them to schedule a call based on the availability of your calendar. Once they select a time within the next 24 hours, you receive an email so you know to connect with them. Playing field leveled.

It isn’t too good to be true. A friend of mine started a company called Team Engine specifically to help industries like ours implement the technology necessary to compete. If you want a demo and free trial, check them out at teamengine.io.

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Now that we’ve engaged a candidate as quickly (or even faster) than Home Depot, how do we make sure they choose our job offer? Let’s talk about the benefits of working in the green industry: We enhance the natural environment while working outdoors, we improve the lives of our customers by helping them connect with nature, and we can be employed (almost) regardless of appearance or background check issues. Clearly, there are advantages that Home Depot can’t offer.

Yet it’s going to take more than building a better applicant response system and appealing to company purpose. To really change the game, employers need to recruit employees strategically and aggressively. But rather than courting employees who are in demand by nearly every business, savvy companies are finding ways to target those employees who are in untapped labor markets. They include people without education or experience, those who are formerly incarcerated, those with disabilities, those with visible tattoos, or those with a history of addiction. Or perhaps veterans, retirees, and part-time workers could be the next ideal candidate.

Of course, managers need to make a conscious choice to adjust human resources policies and may need to allocate extra time for, or even significantly modify, tasks and expectations depending on the employee. And while it will be challenging, it is also one of the most rewarding opportunities that we have in our industry. After all, everyone wants a good job.

The reality is that there are employees available, but they often look quite different and communicate differently than employees of seasons past. The only question that remains is whether your firm will radically change strategies to recruit and retain them.

A frequent Snow Magazine contributor, Neal Glatt is a snow industry veteran as well as a John Maxwell Certified coach, speaker, and trainer.