This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry
Q. How do you recruit people in a tight market?
Interviewee: Ben Quinn – Owner
I reckon that in 20 years of work, I’ve done one TradeMe ad!
We’ve been really lucky in the employment market over the past few years, in the sense that a lot of people come to us looking for work, so we haven’t had to advertise. At the same time, we haven’t lost anyone either. I’m half convinced it’ll all unravel soon, and then I’ll be scrambling for staff!
That said, we’re always keeping our eyes open for qualified staff because we know how valuable they are. We have enough work to take on more, so, if the right person came along, we wouldn't pass up the opportunity.
As a lot of our staff are fully qualified, we’re happy to take on apprentices. In fact, I like being
able to train people from the ground up – I find it helps get them to the level we need them
In terms of staff retention, we have increased wages. People need more money to survive,
which I understand. Other than that, I try to make the working environment as attractive
as possible. I like to think that’s played a role in our good staff retention, and helped us avoid the worst of the skills shortage.
Gardens with Attitude
Interviewee: Wal Vendt – Owner
My recruitment is word of mouth at the moment. We’ve dabbled in running ads, but they don’t seem to work for us for whatever reason, so now we just keep our ears open for anyone who might be interested in joining us!
I try really hard to listen to what a prospective employee wants from the job, so we can figure out the best way to work together – I want them to be happy in the role and for us to get the performance we need from them on the job. Obviously hourly rates come into it, but people also have different situations at home and we try to respect that.
At the moment, we’re looking for four staff but there’s none about! Opening the borders might help in that respect, although we’re not seeing many visa-holders asking
We’ve employed several people from the UK and Europe over the years, but they’ve all gone home now. Unfortunately, our experience with apprenticeships hasn’t been great either. I’ve tried to start two but both of them were nomads – they got six months into it then moved onto another industry. To be fair, I don’t think school leavers really know what they want to do and, at the end of the day, trying out lots of different stuff is the only way they'll figure it out, so I don’t blame them in that respect.
Interviewee: Lyndell Shannon – Owner
Location: Waiheke Island
Staff: Sole Trader
I work as a sole trader for my design company Gardens Realised, so recruitment isn’t a concern for me. However, I also work in the local garden centre doing plant purchasing, and I know that recruitment is very difficult for that sector.
We’re owned by Fletcher Building and, even as the only garden centre the company owns, and with the might of their recruitment behind us, we struggle. Vacancies go up on Facebook and other social media platforms, but we pretty much only recruit via word-of-mouth. We have a large population of South Americans over here and they almost recruit themselves, because they have a very strong local network and bring in friends and family members.
There’s still a strong demand for jobs on Waiheke, so we definitely need the workers, but hopefully the border opening should make recruitment for landscape companies easier.
Our casual workers are seeing wages rise now and, in many ways, they can name their price – the current shortage is definitely working in their favour. However, on the retail side of things,
wages are only up about 4%, which is half of inflation, so in practice it’s not a pay rise at all.