Engaging Employees In a Noisy World


By Chris Dix

The world is noisy! And the internet, in my opinion, has won. It makes our lives easier and provides us with nearly immediate answers. But what I have also found is that it can be, and is, a very large distraction. I don't think we have even begun to understand the effects on attention span and how that correlates to lost productivity. Not to mention, the internet has provided employees with a direct window into professional opportunities of "greener grass" (pun intended). According to Forbes, the average employee stays in a job for 4.4 years. The average millennial (born between 1977 and 1997) expects to stay in their current position for roughly half that time. That’s between 15-20 jobs over a 40-year career! While there is also a host of content on how to engage employees and reduce turnover (not to mention the cost of key employee turnover), I’m not a fan of painting with a broad brush. I’ll focus specifically on three opportunities for the landscape and snow & ice industry to capitalize on.

1. Managers and CEOs work for their employees. Not the other way around.
It took me some time to warm up to Gary Vaynerchuck, Founder of VaynerMedia. His pace and attitude were a bit much for me at first. However, I’ve since come to appreciate how he has optimized his mind for peak performance. There is a reason his estimated net worth is roughly $150 million. And Gary is a huge proponent of shopping for the right boss, not a job. Young people, displaced workers and job seekers should find a boss who they would like to work for--someone who will continue to get in the trenches with their team. Leaders set the pace of their team and are ultimately responsible for performance.

2. Show employees a career path and include professional development.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” - Lewis Carroll. It amazes me how many organizations don’t have career roadmaps included in their on-boarding, employee review meetings, or anywhere in the building. I understand it’s not required, and some employees may not care. But we are missing a huge (and easy-to-implement), opportunity with younger generations by not providing this visual. It could even include performance metrics to hit, or skills to learn along the way in order to advance to the next career step. The US unemployment rate is 3.6%, a 49-year low. And let’s face it, landscaping and snow & ice maintenance is challenging work. One way snow & ice professionals are combating this is by building in the Advanced Snow Manager (ASM) professional certification to new hire on-boarding, or key employee development, and including a pay raise. There is opportunity everywhere to offer ongoing development for team members who want or need it. Keep in mind, if you’re not going to offer it to them, someone else probably will. To spell it out, earning a designation like ASM increases knowledge, increases proficiency, reduces accidents, can reduce insurance spend, increases professionalism and, ultimately, increases profit.

3. Offer competitive pay and benefits.
Most compensation & benefits managers will tell you that wages and benefits should account for roughly 33% of the total operations budget. And there is a plethora of data detailing average wages in a given market based on tenure and job title. This shouldn’t be that hard to execute. Assuming your snow market allows for a mix of contract types (per push, per event, seasonal, etc…), we can get creative in how we compensate our employees and bill out their time.

From my perspective, if I can find two of the above three things in a job, sign me up. And if two of the three continue to happen simultaneously, you’ll have my loyalty for much longer than the 4.4 year average.

Chris Dix
Manager of Membership & Development
Snow & Ice Management Association

10140 N Port Washington Road
Mequon, WI 53092
p: 262.236.9949 | f: 414-375-1945
Chris@sima.org | Linkedin Profile | www.sima.org 

Tags: Management , Retention , Compensation ,