3 Ways To Motivate Your Interiorscape Staff At Work

Hiring signs are everywhere. Billboards, storefronts, drive-thru windows, I notice them every time I drive into town. Unfortunately, there have been several restaurants and other service industry businesses that haven’t been able to reopen due to a lack of staff. With the end of the extra unemployment stimulus, perhaps this will change. For those of us that are still able to operate, retaining staff that makes business possible is more crucial than ever. 

Finding people willing to work is more difficult than I can ever recall; hiring replacements are costly. According to a Gallup statistic, on average, the financial loss for a company is 1.5 to 2 times that salary position when you factor in lost revenues and training. Here are some reasons why staff leave, and some ideas that can help prevent that from happening. 

Employees Feel Under-Appreciated

One of the top reasons employees leave their job is because they didn’t feel appreciated. Especially during stressful times, it’s easy for owners to overlook how their staff is feeling when your focus is keeping the business running. In casual conversation, I’ve often heard people complain their hard work is never acknowledged. 

Acknowledge the work that gets done

Just verbal praise of a project well done or an email saying how grateful you are for their commitment helps legitimize that person’s company loyalty. In larger organizations where managers or supervisors do the majority of staff interaction, making sure they are acknowledging employee performance is extremely vital for employee retention. Poor quality management can be the main reason staff resign even if they like their job. As an owner, maintaining a positive atmosphere and expressing staff appreciation will go a long way to improve company commitment.  

They Are Burnt Out

Recently, I went out to dinner with family and waited an extremely long time for the food to arrive. When I mentioned a few items were wrong, instead of apologizing, the exasperated server responded with she hadn’t had a break in eight hours and hasn’t had a day off in two weeks. For a moment, I thought she was going to break down or perhaps walk off the job.

I understood her frustration since those still working are having to fill in for those vacant positions. Frustration, exhaustion, and resentment are common employee feelings right now. “Why am I working so hard when so many are staying home with their families?” they ask. If you start to notice staff coming to work with negative attitudes, they are probably one step away from quitting. 

Check-in frequently

In the interiorscape business where employees are often working on their own, burnout will be hard to detect unless they feel comfortable coming to you. As an owner, check in with them to make sure they are doing okay and getting the time off they need.

When you ask staff to take on extra accounts, simple actions such as making sure they have good tools and equipment, like watering tanks, will help make their job easier. Offering to provide comfortable footwear is another way to show your employees that you care and could potentially help to prevent employee burnout. 

Plant technician using a watering tank to water a massive plant display

For many years, I suffered from carpal tunnel in my elbow (or gardener’s elbow as my chiropractor called it) from servicing plants. As a result, I’ve found great benefit in offering company-paid chiropractic treatment to plant technicians that develop carpal tunnel or experience neck or back pain. I made a pre-arrangement with my chiropractor to pay a reduced rate (sometimes we even barter plant displays) for any employees I send his way.

Lack of Rewarding Work

Salary increases, bonuses, and higher commissions are the biggest incentive for employees to stay. When Covid started, I lost a majority of my wedding sales and a portion of my holiday accounts. The interiorscape side went stagnant, making financial incentives difficult. I try to make the job more enjoyable with fun competitions, such as who can find the most unusual plant or bring your pet to the office day.

Encourage creativity

Recognizing people’s talents or hobbies and finding a way to incorporate that sense of enjoyment into the job can be a great incentive for them to show up to work. A good example is a college student that worked around her class schedule and, like many in her generation, religiously posted her life on social media. Recognizing her passion while on the job, I asked if she would take some foliage pictures so I could use them on the company platforms. She loved this aspect of the business and then started posting pictures of her own garden and the benefits of living plants. Now, whenever I need her for a project, she’s there.

Encourage staff to do what they love!

3 Ingredients That Help Maintain Dependable Staff

  1. Provide a positive work environment
  2. Show appreciation to those who make your business possible
  3. Allow people to be creative

By applying these three aspects within your business, you’ll find your employees eager to show up to work each day.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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