In landscaping, as in most sectors, it can be quite difficult for different generations to understand each other! Young landscapers may be apprehensive about both working out of doors and corporate life in general – and companies do not always know how to address the “Z generation”. This situation can lead to recruits dropping out, meaning you have to start the whole recruitment procedure all over again. During Paysalia 2019, we listed the main questions asked by landscaping students and apprentices and asked landscape entrepreneur Benoit Brissinger to answer them. A great wayp!
Apprehension 1: “The landscaping business is very tough on the body. We are afraid of the long-term consequences.”
All landscapers have surely heard this!
Mechanical vibrations, carrying heavy loads, the use of chemicals and bad postures are all health-threatening – but the landscaping sector aims to improve working conditions. According to Benoit Brissinger the first step is mechanization.
“Project execution time reduction repays the cost of investing in mechanization. We plan ahead correctly, pool equipment and have an in-house QSE (Quality, Security, Environment) division which ensures we adopt good practices. New employees no longer see their colleagues stretched and stressed – and everyone is better off for that! Nobody is worked to death, although we expect everyone to work hard.”
Small companies are not always able to buy into mechanization when hedge clippers cost on average €8,000! However, progress is rapid and as the years pass, the body is pushed less in landscaping. A good example is the recent arrival on the market of exoskeletons. An undeniable selling point when recruiting young landscapers!
Apprehension 2: “The older generation does not understand youngsters with their new ideas and opinions.”
The generation gap is nothing new! But Benoit Brissinger believes it can be beneficial once a good communication process is established!
“Our landscaping apprentices attend our morning briefings and are free to speak. Youngsters are lively and have different visions and ambitions – they can teach us new directions and can be a stimulus for landscaping companies looking for growth!”
“Reverse mentoring” is important in fostering intergenerational comprehension. Let the young people train their managers. Often geeks, they can, for example, help you assimilate modern technologies like virtual reality or landscape design software. In this way, the newcomers feel respected, integrated into the company and more in phase with their elders. You must be open-minded! The recruitment of a young landscaper can bring you much more than an extra pair of hands.
Apprehension 3: “It is difficult to strike a balance between private and professional life. It’s scary when you see that the site manager gets into work at 5a.m. and leaves at 9p.m.!”
If older generations venerate work, young landscapers view their jobs completely differently. They prefer authentic and human experiences without sacrificing their private lives. They will easily leave companies in which they do not find these experiences, which costs the firms money as they have to go through the recruitment process all over again. What can you do to strike this delicate balance in a sector that does not usually work regular hours?
“Job enjoyment is vital. Everyone suffers if people hate coming to work. You have to watch out to maintain the productivity, but I prefer to give employees time off to be with their families and friends, rest or practice a sport in slack periods providing they go that extra mile when the work is there” Benoit Brissinger explains.
Work is a way for young recruits to build self-confidence by finding meaning in performing with excellence the tasks they are given. Once again you must let them speak freely and implement their ideas to find this meaning. And tell them why a task has to be done before telling them how to do it!
Apprehension 4: “As a landscaping apprentice, I have to manage my work and my studies. It is difficult to juggle the two.”
For apprentices on sandwich courses initial experiences of the world of work can be doubly difficult. The best way around this problem is to start the “hands-on” training a few weeks before school starts so they can get a feel for your company first – and not be overwhelmed.
Benoit Brissinger says, “We have a Corporate Tutor responsible for the integration of students who meets with them every Friday and writes a weekly report on their progress and details what they did during the week. The report book is our connection with the school. It tracks each landscaping apprentice’s acquisition of knowledge and checks they have fully understood what they have learned. It is also the place in which we note our remarks so that the teachers can know what we think about their courses”.
Landscaping companies employing apprentices play a fundamental role in helping them to obtain their diplomas – and may ultimately make it possible to recruit new employees already familiar with the values and methods of their firm. To achieve this common goal, being proactive with the school will facilitate this period all apprentices find difficult to manage.
Whether you are talking to an apprentice, a young new recruit or a class of students to whom you are presenting the landscaping trades, knowing their main apprehensions beforehand means you can defuse them quickly and act in consequence. This is a critical factor in making a career in landscaping attractive to facilitate recruitment for the sector as a whole!