May 15, 2013
phil charalBy Phil Charal
LO president

Most people prefer rewarding and stimulating jobs, and are willing to make less money in order to work at something they enjoy.

Thank goodness a career in horticulture offers people a high level of job satisfaction! The opportunity to create, improve and transform outdoor spaces into beautiful landscapes is very rewarding. Working outdoors in a healthy environment is a great bonus. So much of what we do is art. People who enjoy horticulture, whether it’s growing plant material, designing and building landscapes, or maintaining them, feel blessed that they can make a living doing something they enjoy so much.

Horticulture is a fast-growing industry, with many employment opportunities in all industry sectors. For a number of years there have have been far more positions available in our industry than people to fill them. The demand for our products and our services continues to remain high, regardless of the state of the economy.

I think we all can attest to the rewards and benefits of being in this great industry. What a great opportunity we have to transform outdoor spaces into beautiful and functional landscapes that enrich people’s lives.
Regardless of how passionate workers are about horticulture, they often are forced out of the industry and into other trades that offer them far more money.

It is extremely difficult to compete with hourly rates up in the $40 range, with 10 per cent vacation pay, full medical benefits and time-and-a-half time work over 40 hours.

This is why an employee retention plan is just as important as a customer retention plan. It may not be possible to match union construction wages, but there are a number of rewards and benefits available in the horticulture industry.

Some of the ways you can create incentives to retain employees are:
  • Offer a competitive benefit package that includes health, life insurance and a retirement plan.
  • If possible, provide flexible working hours, or working from home offices.
  • Stage company barbecues, golf days, morning coffee and bagels.
  • Conduct personal reviews with employees at least twice a year to provide them with a better understanding of their place in your company.
  • Whenever possible promote employees from within. When we hire new employees, we do our best to hire someone who we feel has long-term potential growth. In our industry, someone who is dedicated, reliable and a fast learner can advance quickly.
  • Offer training programs from within your company (on-the-job training) and provide employees with paid seminars and educational programs (Landscape Ontario winter workshops).
  • Institute profit sharing, financial awards and incentive programs for employees who meet performance goals and who agree to stay with the company for a pre-determined time period.
  • It is important that employees have a clear and precise job description and know what is expected of them.
  • Probably one of the most important incentives to employees is to express to them their importance to your business.
Good employees are the lifeline of a successful business. Treat them with utmost respect and you will get the same in return.

By using some of these guidelines, we can offer many benefits besides passion.