How to Onboard Your New Hires

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Lawn & Landscape
April 2018
By Marty Grunder

Happy spring! I hope this month finds you getting outside a lot, for work and play. We had a long, cold winter in Ohio, and nothing feels better now than some time in the sun.

Nearly everyone in our industry is crazy-busy right now, and most of us have recently brought new hires on board to gear up for the season’s demands. It can be such a challenge to find and recruit good team members in our industry that by the time we do, it’s very tempting to want to check the box and move on.

But if you don’t take the time and energy to properly train and onboard new hires, then your team, your culture, and ultimately your bottom line will suffer.

1. Get off on the right foot.

Have a plan for your new hire’s first day and ensure you have everything in place they need to start, from a uniform to an email account to a place to park.

Make sure you also communicate what they need to know before their first day. Most people are anxious when they start a new job since they’re entering a new environment where they may not know anyone and they can’t be sure what to expect. Help them to feel welcome and wanted from day one. Assign a peer on their team to show them around the first day and to check in on them in the following weeks. If you’re the owner, take the time to drop by and say hello. Every employee plays a key role in your company’s success; make sure they know this and that they know you know this, too.

2. Train for hard and soft skills.

Most of us focus on the hard skills our team members need to do their jobs, whether it’s how to operate equipment or how to perform proper horticultural practices or how to maintain a vehicle. 

Obviously, these are all critical elements for your landscaping crews, and you should have a systematic program in place that trains specifically for them. At my company, our team leaders meet for one hour every Tuesday for a training session. Attendance is mandatory, and team leaders are expected to then train their crews on the topic.

But just as important as these hard skills are the soft skills your crews need for your company to succeed. Introduce new hires to your vision, mission and core values; paint a clear picture of the kind of company and culture you’re running and the place they have in it. Train them on how to introduce themselves to and interact with clients when they’re on a jobsite. The professionalism of your team is among the most effective marketing you can do to distinguish your company from the competition. Conversely, it can take just one unprofessional interaction for a client to write your company off entirely.

3. Schedule regular reviews.

Ensure team leaders are checking in regularly with new hires and establish a schedule of reviews at the 30-, 60- and 90-day marks. How are they progressing? Are they a good fit with your company and culture? Are there any issues? Do your new hires have any concerns? Now is the time to discuss and address them.

Devote the time and the resources to build and train your team right from the start and you’ll win all season long. See you next month!