4 HR Mistakes You’re Probably Making


If your business is run like most of the landscape businesses out there, chances are you don’t have a strong focus on your human resources efforts. Unless you’re a multi-branch business with a strong corporate mindset, it’s more than likely you don’t have processes in place when it comes to staffing the company. But the truth is, regardless of your size, you should. All businesses need staffing processes in place that will optimize their chances for success.

Even if you don’t have the money to invest in a full-time HR person, you need to put more emphasis on your hiring process if you want to continue to grow your business.

Turf recently spoke to Steve Cesare, a human resources expert and a “harvester” with The Harvest Group, at the GIE+EXPO during his educational session at the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ LANDSCAPES conference about the key mistakes he sees companies make when it comes to HR and to staffing. Here are the four mistakes he sees most landscape business owners make.

1. You have an inadequate staffing focus.

Most landscape businesses do not make staffing a priority, and that’s their first mistake. How important is staffing to your business? Are you constantly looking to hire? If you’re not, then Cesare says you are making a critical HR mistake. That’s because he says these days staffing should be a 24/7, 365-day gig.

“You have to be on top of it,” Cesare says. “Most companies only hire when they have a vacancy; you are missing out on valuable opportunities if that is your approach.”

Cesare says that another fault of an inadequate staffing focus is the fact that most companies do not have a “staffing team.” Most companies have a single person that handles all staffing responsibilities. But without a team there is no accountability.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have someone in charge. There absolutely needs to be a person who takes responsibility for the effort.

“The companies that are most successful are the ones who put someone in charge of the staffing effort,” Cesare says. “Someone has to own it — to really care about it — or it will not be sustainable.”

2. You are too cost-conscious.

The cost of labor is going up and if you’re not willing to accommodate that increased rate, then you are going to lose out on valuable prospective employees, Cesare says.

So, how can you tell if that’s the case?

“If you are not getting four or five resumes each week, you’re being too cost conscious,” Cesare admits. “And you’re not investing enough in your staffing process.”

Cesare recommends investing in a strong employee referral program by incentivizing employees to do your recruiting. It’s cheaper than hiring a head hunter, he adds. But don’t give up all the investment at once, Cesare warns. If you’re willing to invest $400 in bringing in a new laborer, don’t give it away up front. Give them $100 for the first 30 days, $100 for 60 days, $100 for 90 days and the final $100 for staying for 120 days.

If you’re being too cost conscious, you must shift your mindset about investing in staffing, Cesare adds.

“It’s not about filling a position, it’s about accruing wealth for the organization,” he says. “When you think of it that way, it changes how you feel about investing in the effort.”

3. You don’t have job descriptions.

Cesare says the vast majority of landscape companies either have job descriptions that are incomplete or they have no job descriptions at all, and this is another key HR mistake. Cesare says that every existing employee should have a copy of their job description.

A scaled-down version of the job description can also be used for hiring in the form of a job posting. While the job description should detail, in length, the employee’s job duties as well as what is expected of them in terms of qualifications and competencies, a job posting should summarize only the key points.

Once an employee is hired, at that point you would bring out the full-length job description and go over it with them in detail, Cesare says. This should be updated annually and should come out once a year during the employee review process.

4. You can’t retain your people.

If you’re struggling with a retention problem, then you’re going to have a hiring problem, Cesare says. You have to look at the latter first. If you don’t have a place where people want to come to work, then you are only going to continue to struggle with hiring.

“You must treat your employees like customers,” Cesare says. “You make a strong effort to keep your customers onboard. Do the same thing with your employees. Treat them well so they want to stay.”

Happy employees also share their experiences. And, if you’re investing in an internal recruitment effort, then you want to be sure that your people are sharing positive things about your company to the friends and family that they suggest come work for you.

Cesare also suggests not losing touch of your best people.

“Get all of your employees’ names on a list from A to Z and determine who you feel to be the top five to 10 players,” he suggests. “These are the people who you absolutely do not want to leave. By treating them right, you can ensure that they don’t.”