How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhouse Operation

John R. Daley
John R. Daley

The future of the horticulture industry is in the hands of 20-somethings, but don’t panic. They are quick learners, innovative, and want to succeed. With the wide array of college and career options available, the supply of young growers is limited and could be easily lost. If your operation wants a piece of the action, the following recommendations will help you attract, attain, and retain the top talent entering the workforce.

Continue The Learning Process

New growers have a fresh education and have spent the last number of years learning. To engage your new hires, test their critical thinking skills right away. Have them spend a week doing the various jobs that the production crew does. Rather than task new growers with busy work, have your new hires time how long activities take and think of ways to improve the process. Explain how increasing efficiency has an impact on the bottom line. New growers understand the basics; show them the real data.

If young growers feel connected to and involved in all levels of your operation, you can expect them to come to you with ways to improve efficiency and results from the ground up. Your team will benefit from better instructions and planned weekly activities based off real-time estimates. When the learning stops, the career turns into a job, and the growers worth keeping will leave.

Make Them A Valued Part Of The Team

To retain curious and motivated young growers, show them that they are a valuable part of your team. From the beginning, invite them to sit in on some meetings, even those that are not directly related to their positions.

The new level of understanding gleaned from this activity will give context to their work. They will also be able to develop ideas that can improve the company; hear them out. If you shut down a young grower’s attempts to contribute outside of strictly producing a salable crop, you can start looking for your next grower.

Pay A Fair Wage

When it comes to compensation, as always, you get what you pay for. What is a critically thinking, hard-working grower worth to your company? If the answer is $30,000 to $40,000, your new hire is likely already looking for his or her next employer. While no magic number exists that will fit for all growers or operations, there are ways to provide a better compensation package, even if your company has a limited budget for the position.

Today’s young growers are more than willing to put in long hours when it makes a difference, but they also expect compensation for their efforts. If your grower is salaried and works 60-hour weeks in the spring, the same number of 20- to 30-hour weeks should be acceptable in the winter slow season. When the situation is 40+ hour weeks all year, your grower will quickly do the math and figure out that his or her hourly rate is comparable to a shift manager at a fast food chain.

Practice The Golden Rule

Young growers, above all, are looking to join a team where they will be expected to contribute from day one — and be given the agency to do so. Teach your growers the way you would like to be taught. Listen the way you would like to be listened to. Empower your growers to exceed your expectations and theirs. Pay them equitably for what they bring to the table.

If you have what it takes to be an ambassador for the industry, please do hire young growers and show them what an interesting and fulfilling path they have chosen. They will mirror your efforts, and your relationship with them will flourish.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhouse Operation

  1. This artical is so spot on when discribing the struggles that young growers find in this industry! Hopefully more people read this and take positive notes and make changes in their company, young people are the future but how you treat them will reflect your company’s over all outcome.

  2. As a recent graduate I can’t say how important it is for employers to take these ideas to heart. Horticulture is my passion and I would love to do this as a career but if the industry continues to remain unwilling to change I’ll be forced to auxiliary careers such as business or agricultural industries

More From Grow Initiative...
Karen Reardon, RISE

October 15, 2017

Karen Reardon of RISE Honored by CropLife America

CropLife America presented Reardon with its highest staff award for her successful effort to defend against the ban of pesticide use on private property in Maryland.

Read More

October 10, 2017

Houston-Based TreeTown USA Acquires Village Nurseries

With the addition of the new West Coast division, which will continue to operate under its trade name of Village Nurseries, TreeTown USA will now encompass 16 farm locations throughout California, Texas, and Florida, with more than 4,000 acres in production.

Read More

October 10, 2017

Sharpen Your Skills in Cost Management and Profitability With This Online Course

The University of Florida is offering a new online course on costing and profitability. The course will take growers through the process of how to accurately evaluate cost of production, labor efficiency, pricing, and equipment investment decisions.

Read More
Latest Stories
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers… surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More