The landscape industry is growing. In 2018, the Landscaping Services Industry Report stated that the industry employs more than 1 million people, represents more than 500,000 businesses and has annual revenues of $93 billion.
While there’s no shortage of work for green industry professionals, we are seeing a shortage of young employees. As green industry professionals continue to age, we need to work to recruit and retain younger people.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials make up the ages of 22 to 38-year-olds, which a large chunk of the workforce today. One of the biggest challenges the green industry faces when it comes to retaining millennial employees is that many aren’t as interested in manual labor careers that don’t require a four year degree.
As a generation, Millennials have been taught the value of a college degree and traditional 9 to 5 career, but haven’t been shown the equal value of more manual labor career path. The National Association of Home Builders conducted a poll that found that 64 percent of Millennials would not consider a construction job for $100,000 per year.
The problem, however, isn’t that manual labor jobs, such as landscaping, aren’t lucrative or long-term career options, but that as industry professionals, we haven’t showed younger generations how great of a career it can be. In order to recruit and retain a younger workforce, we need to adapt to different recruitment and coaching methods.
Understand their wants and needs
To appeal to younger generations, we must first understand what they’re looking for in a career. Many millennials are interested in sustainability, a strong company culture, flexible work schedules and technology.
Green industry technology is rapidly changing, so we need to highlight all the great technical aspects of irrigation, landscape and lawn care. Focusing on more sustainable products, increased water-efficiency and the many smartphone apps, such as Hydrawise, Go iLawn, Rachio and Luxor, to name a few, will help the younger generation see that there are many things in the green industry that could be of interest to them.
We can also work to show students at an early age that working in the green industry means working on a team, with your hands and away from a desk. These are three benefits that can be appealing to many young people.
Working outside and away from a desk offers benefits that traditional office jobs can’t provide. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to obesity, diabetes risks, cardiovascular disease and more, according to Medical News Today. With so many young people today being more health conscious than previous generations, highlighting the ability to work away from a desk could increase interest.
Similarly, landscaping is often a team effort. Highlighting the commodity and teamwork associated with green industry careers can draw in more Millennials to the industry.
Meeting them where they are
Because many Millennials understand the value of a 4-year degree, as an industry, we need to do a better job of partnering with colleges to show them all the options they have for careers.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals hosts an annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition that brings together students, industry businesses, suppliers and manufactures to compete and network at a career fair. This type of program helps show college-aged people that the green industry is a viable career path for them. By supporting program like this, we can help foster relationships with young people early on. Reach out to your local associations to find opportunities for reaching out to younger people.
As an industry, we need to adapt, because Millennials are critical to the future of the industry. By meeting these potential employees where they are and highlighting the unique benefits working in the green industry holds, we can recruit more young people to the industry.