March is a crazy time in the Lawn and Landscaping business. Spring is here, workloads are exploding, and with cold, rain and even snow possible, environmental challenges are at their highest.
To get the most out of this challenging time, you’ll need your crews to show up every morning, work long hours, and generally pull together to get those jobs done.
But the days when companies could just hire cheap and plentiful labor and drive their employees blindly through weeks of heavy workloads are gone. The labor market is tight. Employees are hard to find. And unhappy employees can be difficult to retain.
So getting what you need out of your workforce might require you to do something different. And one of the most effective things you can do, is simply engage with your employees.
Engagement doesn’t have to be…
“Employee Engagement” has been a buzzword with business writers for a while now. We’ve heard it promoted as a way to retain and motivate employees, and we’ve heard lots of “best practices” that get accepted as truth.
Unfortunately, most of the articles we read lately focus on motivating and retaining flighty, millennial workers who are seeking their (soon to be great as soon as someone recognizes my genius) fortunes in low-level white collar jobs.
And in this world of espresso machines and ping-pong tables, guest speakers and office popcorn makers, they promote “perks”, touchy-feely employee surveys, focus group bitch sessions and other “Corporate HR” techniques as the solution. But even if these things work in a big corporation, they just don’t fit with any of the service industry businesses we know.
Yet, building engagement can benefit your service industry company, even if it looks very different in your business than it does at a Fortune 500 corporation.
Engagement for the Service Industry
We think there is one simple way any business can improve employee engagement. It’s something any company in any industry can (and should) try… Simply take a few simple steps to make your employees feel like they are informed.
Let’s face it, the bar is relatively low here. Lots of service industry companies keep their employees in the dark about even the simplest things, and making any kind of long-term effort to inform and engage your workforce can set you apart from your competitors. This goal is pretty easy to address.
Keeping Employees Informed
Are your employees informed? Here’s a simple test. Do they show up in the morning knowing what’s on their plates for the day, or is each new day a mystery?
For example, you might be planning for long days and late evenings this month to make sure you get all your work done while the weather allows. But do your employees know this? And if they do know, do they understand why?
Working long and hard in March is just good business, and it’s in your employees’ own interest too. But if they show up in the morning not knowing if their day is likely to end at 3:30 or at 7:30, they can’t prepare themselves. If your employees understand what’s expected BEFORE they arrive for work in the morning, they can be prepared. If they’re constantly surprised by it, it could create problems.
4 Tips you can use:
Here are 4 simple options you can try to keep your employees informed. If it makes them feel more engaged and empowered, you might just get more out of them, keep them longer, and have them happier while they’re around.
- Take 10 minutes to talk to them in person. This could be a simple daily (or even weekly) morning meeting for your whole team. Schedule it for a set time and use that time to inform your teams about important plans or changes. You can also use this time to recognize good performance and request feedback from employees on anything that’s important.
- You can leave it up to individual crew leaders to manage. If you have good managers leading your crews, you might be able to have them manage employee communication for you. The advantage is that they’ll have more face time with the teams and can work it into their workday. The downside is that different teams might get very different levels of support.
- Communicate directly with your entire workforce via a regular email notice of ongoing operations. Set up a list, make sure to send something on a regular schedule (we recommend every day), and use it as a way to share information across the company.
- And if you’re old-school, you can even just put it on a board
Whatever you decide to do, the important thing is that you Decide to Do Something. Engaging your employees only works if you work at it, and the best time to start is now.
Do you do it differently? What works for your company? Let us know in the comments!
~Go get em,