How to hire winning hourly employees

October 16, 2018 -  By
Help wanted sign (Photo:


Few people understand the daily pressures faced by landscape management business owners and managers. And fewer still realize that it’s people—both clients and employees—who are usually the source of these stresses. A mower may malfunction, but you can fix it and count on it to be there every day and on time, too. The handheld trimmer or brushcutter may be kaput, but they won’t ever be rude to a customer.

On the other hand, your employees are more often the source of your pressure and stress—but, as you well know, they also are the key to your success. In fact, your success is directly proportionate to your ability to hire quality employees. Why? Because bad hiring decisions are expensive!

It costs an employer 300-700 times an employee’s hourly wage to replace that person when they quit, are fired or just stop showing up. Then, you’re desperate to fill that position so you decide to hire the first applicant who shows up. But chances are, you’ll come to regret it later because that new hire is likely to be mediocre at best and whatever he or she does or doesn’t do can result in lost profits, missed opportunities, decreased productivity and disgruntled coworkers and customers.

A bad hiring decision also can jeopardize your company’s assets, reputation and security. A negligent hiring lawsuit is not something you want to learn about the hard way when a client sues you over an employee’s mistake or misconduct.

Remember the good old days when there were lots of applicants for every job? A simple “Help Wanted” sign on your trucks did the trick. Given today’s low unemployment rate, it’s more difficult to find any employees at all, much less above average, reliable ones.

In such a competitive labor market, those who get creative to attract and retain the type of applicants they need will come out on top. Creative thinking includes strategies such as finding out where the types of people you’d like to hire tend to congregate, socialize, worship, entertain, work, play, belong, shop and live. Once you have this information, you can tailor your recruiting message to appeal to this group and put your message where it’s most likely to be seen. (“Come Grow with Us!” is one such example.) Other useful strategies include starting an employee referral reward program, using recruiting cards and calling former good employees to see if they’d like to come back. (Maybe it turned out that the grass wasn’t greener at that new job after all.)

One recruiting mistake that’s made in almost every industry is to require previous experience to minimize training time. On the other hand, Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines says, “If you don’t have a good attitude, we don’t want you, no matter how skilled you are. We can change skill levels through training. We can’t change attitude.” And research proves that a good attitude is one of the most important qualities an employee can have. Studies show 87 percent of the employees who fail at or leave a job fail or leave because they won’t do it, not because they can’t do it. That’s an attitude problem.

The best way to get rid of a bad attitude is to not hire it in the first place. It’s far easier and less expensive in the long run to hire an employee with a winning attitude and train him or her in the skills you need.

Remember, your employees can be a source of stress or the key to your success. A simple, efficient, effective hiring system includes: 1). recruiting, 2). screening, 3). attitude testing, 4). interviewing and 5). reference checks. A systemized hiring process will give you a real competitive advantage because a well-designed system eases the stress associated with the hiring/firing syndrome, minimizes costly employee turnover, reduces legal exposure and saves you time, money and the headaches that come with hiring mistakes.

This article is tagged with , and posted in October 2018

About the Author:

Mel Kleiman is the author is the founder of Humetrics. He helps companies build high-quality, frontline, hourly workforces. Reach him at

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