Boost lawn care worker retention and get better results by understanding what matters to your international team members.
Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to talk about taking care of your own. Specifically, I’d like to share some thoughts about showing compassion for your workers who come from different cultures.
But I’d be lying if I said hiring international workers was as easy as hiring the neighbor kid. There are travel logistics and living accommodations to consider, for starters. But it’s more than that: Creating a great work environment for a diverse workforce requires care and intention.
I spoke to a few of our fellow lawn care business owners who have had success with international employee retention. I rounded up some of the best advice we have to offer on building great relationships with workers from other cultures.
Celebrate your workers’ home countries.
Just hanging up their home country’s flag in the office can make a powerful impression. One guy shared with me, “When our Mexican employees came in for donuts, literally tears were coming down their faces.” For someone who might be battling homesickness and culture shock, that little piece of home can be tremendously comforting. Plus, it shows them that you care—about them and about where they came from.
Give them tools that speak their language.
I like creating a second set of forms in Spanish for my guys to use. This allows them to create estimates and do other tasks, since they can easily fill in the numbers. Plus, did you know that CLIP has a translator module? Your Spanish-speaking employees can translate customer notes with the touch of a button!
CLIP empowers your international workers to do excellent work by speaking their language. It’s a fantastic way to accommodate them and give them more autonomy in the field.
Learn the language—or find ways around the language barrier.
I’ve written before about creative ways to navigate a language barrier. But there’s something to be said for learning the language. (H-2B workers can come from all over the world, but I’ve mostly hired guys from Spanish-speaking countries. So I’m going to focus on Spanish.)
I know a guy who believes strongly that any lawn care business owner who hires international workers should learn Spanish. He thinks it’s crucial for a landscape company to learn Spanish and be able to communicate with Spanish speakers.
Here are his reasons:
- It solidifies the relationship with a Spanish-speaking workforce.
- If you have a bilingual worker who leaves the company, it’s much easier to adapt.
- Training a new Spanish-speaking worker goes a lot smoother from day one.
- Having a Spanish speaker in leadership is great for retention. Our guy says it’s a big part of why he’s been able to keep all his best gardeners.
There’s also something to be said for learning even a little of the language. One lawn care business owner has all his American employees learn one Spanish sentence per week. That little bit of extra effort means an awful lot to his Spanish-speaking workers!
Talk to your workers!
From my experience with the H-2B program, I’ve learned that these workers value connection and community.
They want to know you, and they want you to know them. Take a little time to ask them a few questions, with or without a translator, and really listen. Ask them:
- How they’re doing today. (And don’t expect the American response of, “Good, you?” They’ll tell you the truth. Listen—and respond.)
- When they last spoke to their family and how the family is doing.
- Whether you can help them with anything. And make sure you mean it!
The time you spend connecting with your workers this way is incredibly meaningful to them. Not only is it the kind thing to do, it’s good business. If your guys feel like you care about them, they’ll stick with you. You won’t have a problem with retention if you put a little effort into these relationships.
Help your workers connect with the community.
When moving to a new city it can be hard to find friends and make connections. You can help your guys get settled much faster by doing this for them or getting them a few recommendations. Talk to them directly and figure out if they need recommendations for anything specific. In my experience, they might appreciate your help finding:
- A church.
- A good grocery store. Better yet, one that sells foods from their culture!
- Flea markets.
You can also help your guys figure out local transportation, so they can get around independently, or offer to give them a ride.
These may seem like common courtesy type things, but, as we all know, this kind of concern is becoming less common. Use it to differentiate your company!
Have you hired international workers for your lawn care business? What are your secrets to success? Tell us in the comments! And in the meantime, check out CLIP’s . In addition to its translator module, CLIP is packed with plenty of features to streamline your business and boost your profits. See for yourself!
Until next time, keep clipping!