Check out the 2024 State of the Landscape Labor Market Report. Download here.

3 Fail-Proof Ways To Incentivize Employees

3 Fail-Proof Ways To Incentivize Employees

| Topic:

Business Advice

You turn up at a job site only to find your employees sitting around, chatting, and drinking coffee. Do you have to do everything around here? Before you pull on your work boots or go shouting at your guys, stop. What if I told you there are some simple and highly effective ways to turn team productivity around?

Before I get into that, it’s worth examining the two main areas where many business owners go wrong when it comes to empowering employees to ensure high productivity levels.

landscaping business owner directing team

1. Unintentional Undertraining

From my experience, there’s a chronic state of underestimating how much support, guidance, and direction people need in their first three to six months after joining a landscaping firm. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard owners say, “It’s not that hard, just follow this person around for a week and then if you figure it out you can stay, and if you don’t …eff off.”

Just because it’s simple to you as the owner doesn’t necessarily mean it is for the new person. A little extra time spent training goes a long way.

2. The 5-Step Checklist

This is something that often gets overlooked, and really, there’s no excuse for it. A simple checklist that outlines what’s expected from employees while on the job site will ensure everyone is on the same page. I’m not talking about complicated software here; just put an hour aside during your morning coffee to really think about what you expect, type that up into five bullet points, print off a card, laminate it, and put it in the work truck. Simple.

So now you’ve implemented those two systems, what’s next?

Time to work on some meaningful incentives!

If you’re wondering whether incentives actually work in boosting productivity, check out these stats: Studies show that properly structured incentive programs can increase employee performance by as much as 44 percent, and the companies that implemented an employee rewards program experienced 31percent less voluntary turnover.

Patagonia is a great example of this. Its founder, Yvon Chouinard, is notorious for focusing heavily on company culture and as part of that offers some radical incentive programs to its employees, like, say, giving staff time off to travel to some far-flung place to get their hands dirty to help the environment (yup, cleaning up sea lion poop on the Channel Islands is a thing). Does it work? You bet it does. Patagonia has only four percent employee turnover!

Of course not everyone has that kind of money, and you probably don’t want staff taking four weeks off over the summer anyway.

The point is, hiring and motivating employees no longer come down to raises, promotions, and bonuses, but offering things that have meaning and impact an employee’s emotional, rather than financial, health. This is especially true of employees under 40 who often prioritize purpose over finances when it comes to their work environment.

Here are my 3 fail-proof ways to incentivize employees:

1. Personalize Gifts/Incentives They Will Love

A couple of years ago I asked Breakthrough Academy to pay for a cat skiing trip for me as an incentive instead of a $2,000 bonus. I knew that the bonus would end up going to rent and groceries…hardly an incentive. If they really wanted me to get my ass in gear, the promise of taking me on a cat skiing trip with some of our members, something I would never dream of buying for myself, well you can imagine how hard I worked for that. We built a way to execute the plan and pretty soon I was heading into the backcountry to create a memory of a lifetime. The point is, steer clear from gift cards and choose something personal and meaningful.

2. Condense The Reward Timeline

Imagine being given an incentive that takes 12 months to achieve, and another six months to enjoy? No thank you. A year is a really long runway. It’s too easy to fall off course and give up. Instead, think about month-long or quarterly sprints. By compressing the timeframe people will act more urgently and productivity will soar (and so will your profits). Also, compress the timeframe for when they will get the reward. Recognition delayed is recognition denied.

3. Get Everyone Involved to Incentivize Employees and Crew

There is nothing more empowering than feeling part of something, and that goes for your business too. consult with your people on where THEY think you should set the goals. Go to the team, tell them what you want to improve and ask them how they think you can gamify that to work for them. Always go ground up rather than top down.

work crew gathering on a snowy mountain

In the end, it’s about knowing your audience and keeping it simple. Incentives that motivate have changed over time. If your staff consists of Millennials and Gen Z, then speak their language. Unlike Baby Boomers who loved those fat bonuses, Millennials and Gen Z are driven by incentives that enhance work-life balance, enable flexible schedules, and give back to the community.

You can’t expect an hourly employee to have ownership level thinking, but you can create programs that will drive them to take ownership and pride in their role. Companies that use properly structured incentive programs see a 300% revenue increase over those that don’t . . it’s a no-brainer really.

Learn more at our webinar: Attracting & Hiring Rockstar Employees; The #1 Challenge In Landscaping on Feb 25, 2021.

About Breakthrough Academy

Breakthrough Academy (BTA) helps contractors build profitable and efficient companies through proven processes, coaching, and community networking. We are currently working with over 300 business owners across North America, managing over $1 billion worth of revenue.

In 2020, BTA was ranked as Canada’s 106th fastest growing company by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business; the third consecutive year on a growth list for the brand (32nd in 2019, 16th in 2018).

If you are looking to improve the efficiency of the backend of your landscape business and have more time available for self-care, download LMN Free today.

Breakthrough Academy Webinar

You’re just one step away from better

Start Your Free Trial

30-day free trial. No credit card needed.