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View Full Version : Average "Life Expectancy" of Employees...


impactlandscaping
08-30-2004, 10:50 AM
Just curious to see how everyone has been doing with labor situations this year. My brother has been working with me for three years, and "joe", my other employee, has been with me since December 2003. Well, "joe"started showing up late, and had two no shows in a month..he's outta here, I had given him enough slack because he was a good worker. Well, he and my brother had been hanging out on the weekends and getting chummy, so when I canned "joe", my brother was mad. Basically, I don't think he wanted to pick up the extra slack until I hired someone else. So, I had enough of his crap over the years as well. They are both gone. I called the Unemployment Office Friday to have them send me some applicants with experience, and have already had three calls today. I like the idea of using a service for hiring as it is less personal if they don't work out. We had a summer where we went thru at least five guys in three months, and I hope it doesn't start all over now going into leaf fall. How much have you been willing to tolerate from an employee over the years, because they were a good worker? Sorry for the long post, it's raining and I'm waiting for the phone to ring....

olderthandirt
08-30-2004, 10:56 AM
If there good and can do 2 days work in 1 day, I'll put up with 1 day of goofing off. lol Keeps payroll lower.

Mac

impactlandscaping
08-30-2004, 11:02 AM
Mac, my brother has been a really good worker, and I may have allowed too much slack over the years to him for the fact he is a good worker and my brother. I felt like I had to draw the line somewhere, especially after letting joe go. I'll have no mutiny on me ship, says me, tha' cap'n...arrrrrr...<a href='http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb008' target='_blank'><img src='http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/10/10_1_10.gif' border=0></a>LMAO!!

walker-talker
08-30-2004, 02:05 PM
I dont think people want to work, like they used to. I work in a factory with a lot of assmbly work. We needed 50 people and wient through 307 others to get that 50. Most of that 307 quit coming to work.

CJ GreenScapes
08-30-2004, 02:30 PM
I wish I could answer that question, but right now I am asking myself the same thing. My current employee is testing my limits, but not my authority. He works hard, but his mistakes are getting costly.

When I figure out how much I will take, I will let you know... LOL

Littleriver1
08-30-2004, 04:01 PM
I'm 60 and when I was in hight school in the early 60's I had a part time job in a machine shop / welding shop. They had about 7 to 10 employees. The owner was in his 50's I guess. Anyway all we ever heard was "nobody wants to work for a living any more". The oldest employees said he had been complaining about that for 30 years. So I guess it's true, there isn't anything new under the sun. The sad part is, he was right then and it's still true. Everytime I say that, I think about old Leo. He was the hardest SOB I ever worked for in my life. I learned more from him in 3 years than I learned in my life. Anytime any of my employees would complain to me about how hard I worked them, I always said " You haven't seen nothing yet". I would never do to anyone what Leo did to us but I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for Leo. The answer for you and me is. That's just the way it is, wheels are round and seats are not always soft. Not very many people are going to have your passion for what you do. Just remember, It's your dream, not your employees dream. They have their own dream to pursue and your not in it. The closer you can get an employee to visualizing your dream the longer and harder he will work for you.

Trevors Lawn Care
08-30-2004, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by Littleriver1
I'm 60 and when I was in hight school in the early 60's I had a part time job in a machine shop / welding shop. They had about 7 to 10 employees. The owner was in his 50's I guess. Anyway all we ever heard was "nobody wants to work for a living any more". The oldest employees said he had been complaining about that for 30 years. So I guess it's true, there isn't anything new under the sun. The sad part is, he was right then and it's still true. Everytime I say that, I think about old Leo. He was the hardest SOB I ever worked for in my life. I learned more from him in 3 years than I learned in my life. Anytime any of my employees would complain to me about how hard I worked them, I always said " You haven't seen nothing yet". I would never do to anyone what Leo did to us but I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for Leo. The answer for you and me is. That's just the way it is, wheels are round and seats are not always soft. Not very many people are going to have your passion for what you do. Just remember, It's your dream, not your employees dream. They have their own dream to pursue and your not in it. The closer you can get an employee to visualizing your dream the longer and harder he will work for you.

were you one of my grandpa's friends who hiked five miles up hill both ways to school, through 5 feet of snow, just to go to school every morning. Your post has a lot in common with what a bunch of his buddies tell me every time i see them..

:p

trevor

impactlandscaping
08-30-2004, 06:37 PM
I guess the way I am leaning to go over the next ten or fifteen years is to offer stock options to employees. I believe the hardest working , most loyal, and productive employees would be the ones who share the common vision with you about the future of the company. People who want to just work for a paycheck aren't going to fit in to my plan for the future. Most people are just plain lazy, and only want to do the minimum of what is required of them to eke by. Whatever happened to personal accountability, and taking pride in what you do? Anyone out there doing stock options for employee ownership?

Mark McC
08-30-2004, 06:51 PM
This is off topic, but Trev, that icon you use is a picture of one really hot woman. Care to post a larger version?

walker-talker
08-30-2004, 06:58 PM
Trevor, I know you are still young and I am not knocking you for that. I am only 36 and it seems the older you get, the more you remember the harder days vs. the easy ones. I have worked for 5 different bosses in my life and 3 of them were real hard asses, but it is from them I learned the most, especially the first one. I went to work at the age of 13 in an auction house. I worked for him for 5 years and he taught me a lot about work ethics. I can relate with Littleriver.

HOOLIE
08-30-2004, 07:19 PM
I dont know how well stock options would work. Look at what happened to AOL. As soon as people could cash them in, they did and quit. Not that they are doing too badly, but the point is, an employee is an employee, they are there to provide labor, not share in your "vision" of success. It doesnt' hurt to pay well and have benefits, but it doesn't make people work harder.

fga
08-30-2004, 07:28 PM
bill,
my brother worked fo rme since day 1. he worked for for 5 years, and this is the first he hasn't been an employee. he works a day or 2 a month, maybe. if i need him. But i put up with alot of slack that normally i wouldn't have. like waking him up in the morning when he should have already beenin the truck. The thing i miss most is an actual conversation..... i'm definitely more productive now with amigo, but i do miss actually talking during the day. any hard feeling with your bro? i didn't have to fire him, cuz he started at the local university full time, that's why he left, so there's no hard feeling here.
he see's the bigger equipment i've bought, an extra blower, etc... he wants to work suddenly on his off school days:rolleyes:

Harry0
08-30-2004, 09:14 PM
To answer your question about life expectancy- I would say your average $10-14 an hour laborer is 1.5 years. I have a brother who has been with us 15 years and I also have guys that walked off the job the first day. We pay holidays-health ins-pension-bonuses-paid holidays etc the fact of the matter is we have a young employee pool and they are always looking for an easier way to earn a buck(Don't blame them) The grass is always greener-They just get tired and bored of the same thing. Times are different than 20-30 years ago-as an employer we need to be more flexible and always try to find ways to keep employees.-Harry

impactlandscaping
09-01-2004, 09:19 AM
Adam, yesterday was my brother's birthday, and he asked to come back to work...I thought about saying "no" for a while, but I said yes. I have been getting some really strange responses to my employment ad at the unemployment office..lol, so in the interest of forward progress, he's coming back tomorrow. Now to be able to fill the other spot by next Monday would be nice..

JimLewis
09-01-2004, 01:46 PM
You're question is really a tough one. Some guys last only a few days before we realize they aren't up to our standards of work performance. Some guys have worked for me for 5 years. I can't give you an "average" life expectancy. It varies too much.

Several years ago, when I wasn't so good at interviewing and weeding out bad employees at the interview process, I used to go through employees like crazy. We'd sometimes go through 4 employees in a month before finding 1 good one for the position we had open. Eventually, I got better at realizing who'd be a good worker and who wouldn't. That's when I started to get longer lasting employees right from the start.

You gotta understand that your average spoiled american isn't going to want to do yard work for a full-time job. Sure, it's exciting to us, as the business owner. But how excited would you be to just be an employee making $8 or $10 an hour mowing lawns all day every day with no big future in site. That would be just a temporary job for most americans - a job you'd take just out of desperation until you could find something better.

There are a few good hard working Americans who actually DO want to do this kind of work. But you really got to investigate WHY during the interview process. If there is some 40 year old guy who seems really anxious to work for you for $8 an hour mowing lawns, that should really set off some red flags for you. Why would a guy at age 40 still be looking for menial jobs? He hasn't built up any better skills in the last 22 years of his working career??? Has he been in prison? Alchoholic? Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense. The guy probably has "issues". And those issues may result in poor work performance, attitude, attendance, etc.

You gotta get inside people's heads and lifestyles when you are interviewing them. Find out why they'd really want to take a job like the one you're offering. Could be some kid home from college for the summer. Nothing wrong with that. But there are problems with this scenario too. Most college kids these days haven't ever had to do hard labor. They worked at Safeway part-time during high school and at the campus bookstore during school and they'll be all excited to work for you - for about 2 days. Then reality will set in and they'll realize they can get paid the same doing something much easier and start looking for another job. That guy will last 1 or 2 weeks. Again, something that could have been prevented during the interview process had you had more insight and understood his past, etc.

Then there's just the average hard working blue colar guy who has been working hard jobs for a long time because he doesn't know any better or have any other skills or education. This guy might be 22-35 years old and he has worked at a nursery and at a mechanic shop and as a construction worker, etc. And his last job loved him but work ran dry and they had to let him go. He might make a good employee but with the wages we pay in this industry and with his past in construction, he might jump ship in a few months when his room-mate gets him a better paying job for this new construction company. If you are able to keep this guy, you're eventually going to have to shell out a higher wage. A guy like this won't stay around too long without the promise of more $. And while you might think he's worth $12 / hour, you'll be bidding against guys like me who have guys just as good as your guy but I pay them only $9 per hour. (see next group, below....)

Then there's hispanic immigrant laborers. These guys are used to hard work, eager to please, and $8 / hr. to them is a ton of money! But you're going to have to get used to the language barrier. Still, in my experience, this class of workers, on average, usually works the hardest and stays the longest. I've hired people from every class, sex, race, age group, etc. over the years. But these days this last group makes up 90% of my work force. I wish I could say that I had a bunch of clean-cut english speaking americans working for me. But the reality is that those guys can demand higher wages that I can't afford to pay. And it wouldn't be wise for me to pay them higher wages either because then I'd be paying higher wages than my competition and making it a lot easier for the competition to get the winning bid.

I am sorry for such a long post. But this is a very complex topic and there's a lot that can be said. Hopefully, my rattlings made some sense.

Ahorita es nesisito yo regresso a trabajar.

impactlandscaping
09-01-2004, 06:02 PM
Good post Jim. One of the many problems we face here in Morgantown is college students..I have hired some over the last two years that are in LA or Hort. program looking for some field time during summer.Those are the good ones, many of the rest who answer ads for work want to start on Monday at $ 10.00 an hour and make $ 30.00 an hour by Friday, or can't show up on time from being hungover all the time. And the only migrant / mexican workers around here are at the local Mexican restaurants, not it the labor pool, so I can't go that route.. I have been pretty lucky for the last year, but I have seen some real doozies out there. Hired a guy three summers ago, he walked to the top of a backyard with a 21", came down,sat down and wanted to quit right there..I'm sure if everyone here posted their strangest / funniest employee termination story, it would no doubt be a page turning best seller.:D

dkeisala
09-01-2004, 07:02 PM
I hired a guy last summer from the local community college. Kid was in the Hort program. He looked like Marvin Milktoast but decided to give him a shot. He just about died from heat stroke the first day. Paid him in cash for the day and told him to get a job indoors with air conditioning.

Hired a guy this summer. He disappeared one day. Calls me a week later telling me he couldn't come to work because he was in jail and wasn't even suppose to be in Washington state but still wanted his job. He was actually a pretty good guy and a great worker BUT....I told him he had things he needed to work on, wished him good luck and sent him on his way.

JimLewis
09-01-2004, 09:49 PM
And the only migrant / mexican workers around here are at the local Mexican restaurants, not it the labor pool, so I can't go that route.. Well, that kind of bites. I see the problem then. Yah, your kind of stuck in a hard spot then. The good news is that so is your competition. So the way I see it, the only choice you have is to filter through the bad apples and fire them as soon as you realize their not working out and then keep the good apples and give them raises often enough to keep them around. Then, you just need to adjust your prices accordingly so that you can afford a little higher wage. Because with that labor pool you're pretty much stuck with having to pay more $$. If business slows down because your prices increase, then counter that with more aggressive marketing.

I guess we're a little spoiled here in Oregon with our cheap workforce and preveland migrant labor pool. We have more than enough immigrant hispanic laborers to fill all of the unwanted jobs around here. It's getting so bad that high school kids have trouble finding jobs these days. Hispanics have totally taken over whole industries around here. Around here 90% of all the workers in certain industries (the food service industry, landscaping, nurseries, home construction, cleaning, gas stations, mini-marts, grocery stores, etc.) are immigrant hispanics.

It's great for those of us who can capitalize on it. And it's okay for those of us who are fairly fluent in spanish. But for everyone else, I bet it's probably a little annoying. Half the time, the guy at the drive-thru or the guy painting your house is someone who doesn't understand a word you say.

The really funny thing is how they've taken over the restaurant industry - every single kind of restaurant. It's hillarious when you're in a sushi restaurant trying to order sushi from a guy who only speaks spanish. You ask for Tako (Japanese word for Octopus) and they say, "Oh. Sorry. No Tacos here." You ask for Toro (Japanese word for Tuna - but also the Spanish word for Bull) and again they tell you that they don't have any of that. It's funny but frustrating!

Mdirrigation
09-01-2004, 09:59 PM
Jim Lewis wrote

I wish I could say that I had a bunch of clean-cut english speaking americans working for me. But the reality is that those guys can demand higher wages that I can't afford to pay. And it wouldn't be wise for me to pay them higher wages either because then I'd be paying higher wages than my competition and making it a lot easier for the competition to get the winning bid.


There lies the problem , years ago before the influx of imported labor wages were higher and you could find americans that would work hard , we were paying 10 to 12 dollars an hour in 1984 . Then companies brought in imported labor to increase their bottom line , thus lowering prices to get more work.
This forced other companies to cut costs by hiring forign workers for less money . And this has stagnated both the pay for employees and what the customer gets charged . Ask yourself , could you pay rent , feed yourself , pay insurance , electric , gasoline etc on 8 to 10 dollars per hour and winters off ?

Supertiger
09-01-2004, 10:13 PM
ive been trying to find the best workers now for 6 years, and im ashamed to say that the only people who will work hard and not complane and be at work every day including Saterday and do a good job while at work is MEXICANS............................. Unforchanatly the best of the best are Illegal ones which puts me in a tight spot with the Law. but its true Illegal MEXICANS know how to get the job done period.

HOOLIE
09-02-2004, 12:13 AM
With this being a somewhat seasonal business for many of us, it works out well with the Hispanic laborers, as many of them go "home" for the winter. I hardly ever see an American doing this, unless they are the owner.

impactlandscaping
09-02-2004, 08:22 AM
We have a family friend who has an apple orchard in Romney, and they use migrant workers exclusively. They work like hell just to live for the weekends.When things die down for the year, they move south, and then come back every spring. They even have a large house provided to them for the spring / summer while they are here. I don't wish to see a large influx of these migrant workers around here in the landscaping business, but I don't think we have to worry as long as we don't have 12 months of work. I don't think they care for the 20 degree temps and snow too much:D in the winter. I have a few friends who mow and go only, doing 150+ accounts a week, and most of the guys who work for them are of a less than desireable appearance. It's even sad to see the biggest LCO here in town with new crew members almost every week or so. Almost anyone who applies for a job in a green industry related biz around here has already been through most of the other LCO's + LMO's around here.

txlawnking
09-02-2004, 09:59 AM
Mr. Lewis, as usual, definatly has his finger on the pulse of the labor industy. Excellent info.. Having worked in quite a few industry's since I was 17, I've experienced ALL of the employee scenarios you described, Jim.

dkeisala
09-02-2004, 10:51 AM
Originally posted by txlawnking
Mr. Lewis, as usual, definatly has his finger on the pulse of the labor industy. Excellent info.. Having worked in quite a few industry's since I was 17, I've experienced ALL of the employee scenarios you described, Jim. I second that.

As I'm only a few miles north of Jim Lewis, I can confirm what he says. There's still plenty of agriculture around here and a humungous nursery trade so plenty of migrant workers.

With the population exploding over the last several years and the downturn in the economy, landscape maintenance has exploded as well. It's a natural migration for hispanic workers to pick up the slack in landscape maintenance, their skills are perfectly suited for it. Clients may complain about the communication barrier but how well do you need to speak english to mow a lawn?

I've never used hispanic labor, not because of any prejudice on my part but on the part of my clients. I can't tell you how many times I've had a new client complain about their last provider because "they were all mexicans". It turns my stomach, I don't like working for bigots but I've got bills to pay. I think all that negativity has instilled an irrational fear in me that hispanic labor will somehow hurt my business. I should probably get over this because as Jim eluded, there are only so many white guys to go around and most of those don't care for the hard, and at times monotonous, work we do. I should find a way to work through this challenge in order to stay competitive.

jgc8fan
09-03-2004, 03:19 AM
K0nd I have only been in business for 5 months, and we've seen some things that are adjusting our future plans regarding employees. The first thing we decided was that the co. is going to have everyone carrying NEXTELs with GPS, so if we are not present we can see if they are in Dunkin Donuts for 3 hours or in a strip bar instead of working. [bleep-bleep--- Your fired... Go home... I'll send someone to pick up the equipment...] :D

One day returning to the shop to drop our gear we saw one of the larger co's employees doing street maintenance, and two of them horsing around racing eachother and doing donuts and such on Bunton 60" ZTRs... All I could say to my partner is that those two @#$!% would be gone quicker than ice water in hell if those were our $8000 ZTRs those idiots were bouncing around. Then there's another genius with a trimmer dragging the head along the pavement.:angry: Here we are only able to afford one Echo trimmer, and this joker is dragging a commercial Stihl like it's a slow dog on a leash. I never tolerated that type of thing supervising in retail, and I won't when I get to the point where we start hiring employees. My partner used to actually work for me in retail, and knows that I will have 0 problems canning 2 - 3 people a day if they aren't cutting it. There are plenty of people willing to do the job in my area, so it wouldn't be a problem replacing someone.

snippy
09-03-2004, 07:53 AM
Originally posted by jgc8fan
[bleep-bleep--- Your fired... Go home... I'll send someone to pick up the equipment...] :D




If I were you I'd get the equiptment first then do the firing.:D