We are hiring our first two full time employees this year, mostly small landscape installs/renovations and hedge/shrub maintenance, irrigation. I told the first guy I had last week it would be one of our hardest jobs of the year. The builder completely blocked in 3 back yards and we had a 84 yard pile of soil to move from the spot we got it slung in. These are tight staircases and not really any access for even a mini skid. My wife and I did the first and farthest yard by wheelbarrow which was about 150 feet away. The guys first job was to bring me 2600 sq' sod down the stairs all day while I laid it, I would probably bring 1 roll for every 3 he did to catch up with him. I felt bad for him and let him take breaks every 10-15 minutes to catch his breath, have a smoke and snack break every pallet we finished plus 40 minute lunch. The next day was just moving soil. He would do about 1 wheelbarrow for every 1.75 that I would do but I don't expect him to be able to keep up right away. After every wheelbarrow or 2 he would have to take a minute to rest, then if I ever got a phone call he would just stop, which I did say that's not ok. I told him he could stop to rake out the soil every few loads but he said raking hurts his back. I just felt bad watching him struggle and didn't want to force him to go faster. 3rd day was a garden tear out which was a little painful to watch him try to dig out shrubs but he did ok. The work we do is pretty labour intensive and mostly small tight yards so we almost never have machines, but get soil and gravel slung in if possible. But there is almost always some type of material that needs to be brought up or down a tight section with stairs only. Next week he will be bringing down another 6000sq' of turf and I don't want him to collapse on me. Should I be expecting labourers to always be generally weak and give them a chance, or should I just be firing guys like this and moving onto the next? I had $16-18/hr starting in the ad but after the first day I said I think you are worth $17, he said he was hoping for $20. I told him we will never pay cash or subcontract like most companies, so if he can get more somewhere else he should do it. Most companies doing landscaping and maintenance start at $12-15 here which is barely a livable wage so I'm trying to make it a bit more appealing. But then again I've read that paying more isn't much of a motivator and you get what you get.