Each August, I eagerly await the results of our annual State of the Industry study. It’s a chance to confirm or deny that what we’ve been hearing from select growers during interviews throughout the year is reflective of the larger population. This year, the results confirmed what we had heard: Growers are optimistic after several years of solid revenues; edibles sales are still there, but the market may have reached a plateau; growers want to improve their marketing efforts; and labor has squeaked past the economy and declining customer bases to become the No. 1 impediment to growing their businesses.

One of the statistics that surprised me was that 54% of growers have not made any strategic recruiting shifts to attract younger professionals. Yet, growers have found it challenging to stay fully staffed, in part because younger folks aren’t as interested in working in horticulture as in the past. So while I don’t think greenhouse operators should be looking exclusively for young professionals to fill their job openings, I do think that it may be a good time to rethink how we’re recruiting new talent.

Before I went on any job interview, I always did a bit of online research to find out as much as I could about the company. And when I was hiring staff myself, I asked them what they knew about our company during the interview. Their results were instrumental not only in determining how invested they were in obtaining a position, but also how good of a job we were doing at communicating our company’s vision and values to the general public. What will potential job seekers learn about your company if they Google it? Would you want to work at your company solely based on the information you can find about it online?

Only about a quarter of all growers reported using social media to advertise positions and strengthen the company’s presence. Are you regularly updating your social media channels and website, and including photos and other news that show job seekers that it’s a successful, welcoming, hard-working and friendly company? If you aren’t, prospective employees may not give your company a second look. On the contrary, you could potentially attract job seekers you normally wouldn’t if you show off your best attributes online.

What have you changed or improved about your hiring practices in recent years? How have you successfully combatted — even if you haven’t completely overcome — labor shortages? Share your ideas with us at kvarga@gie.net, and they may be included in an upcoming issue.

Check out the full 2017 State of the Industry Report starting here

Karen E. Varga, Editor


216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE