Whether it’s managing missed calls, managing supplier communications or trying to get materials to the job site, there’s too much on everyone’s plate across the industry. To make things worse, the ongoing supply chain issues caused by the plant shortages, labor shortages and inflation don’t seem to be abating anytime soon. If all this wasn’t enough, every news headline seems to be setting off the alarm bells that a recession is looming. In short, the green industry seems to be going through a remarkably stressful period.
It’s time to find answers to what exactly are the causes of stress and what can be done about it. This is exactly why synkd (previously ProLandscaper USA South) and GoMaterials launched the 2022 Stress Survey for landscape professionals. Read on to discover the top three findings of the survey!
What Does the Survey Reveal About the State of Stress and its Causes?
The data speaks for itself—most landscape professionals are facing exceptional challenges this year. More than 75 percent of those polled reported a mid- to high-level of stress in 2022, and 79 percent of respondents said that they are more stressed in 2022 than they were in 2021.
What is putting pressure on landscapers? Here are the top reasons for stress listed by the respondents of the poll (in order of importance):
• Plant material shortages
• Unreasonable customers & suppliers
• Miscommunication with drivers, nurseries & architects
• Worker & truck driver shortages
• Lack of organization & well-defined processes
While these 5 triggers are distributed quite evenly, the top concern for respondents seems to be the plant shortages. A few respondents chimed in on the decrease in quality and availability of plant materials. What makes this particularly challenging is that there is no predictable end to the shortages in sight.
In fact, 60 percent of nurseries estimate that plant shortages will last throughout 2022 as per the “Plant Shortage Report” released by the GoMaterials team.
Chronic supply chain issues and plant shortages can trigger more tense relationships both with customers and suppliers—piling on the stress in 2022. And it’s not just landscapers who may be stressed out. Suppliers are also struggling to keep up with landscapers’ demands. The industry is changing, and the aftershocks are being felt by all parts of the industry. One respondent recognized that “there are fewer suppliers and more competitive pressure.” The key here may be to focus on maintaining healthy relationships with your suppliers, even when you find your patience wearing thin.
Miscommunication with drivers, nurseries and architects is also cited by a large number of respondents as a leading stress causer. And it’s easy to see why considering the lack of robust communication frameworks in the industry. Coping with all the demands, requests and last-minute changes tied to completing a landscape job is no picnic.
Multiple reasons chosen by the respondents in the survey point to a simple fact regarding the causes of stress. It ultimately comes down to the lack of overall organization and well-defined processes in the industry.
Daily Routines That Are Causing Stress
Respondents were pretty evenly split when rating which activities most contributed to their everyday stress. The top activities rated as stressful offer an insight into systemic challenges:
1. Coordinating & replying to emails
2. Buying materials, arranging transport & project scheduling
3. Having to double-check deadlines constantly
4. Getting approvals from city inspectors or architects
5. Recruiting & training employees
6. Bidding or estimating for jobs
Needing to double-check deadlines as a cause of stress will resonate the most in the industry and sums up why routine activities can add stress. Specs, quality, dates and many other details need to constantly be validated in an average day for a landscaping operations team.
It’s evident that the lack of manpower in administrative roles is debilitating for many small and large businesses. Multiple routine activities reported as stressful by the respondent could be a lot simpler with additional administrative support. Rise of third-party services such as GoMaterials and the right investment in tech can definitely help alleviate some of the pressure.
Respondents Want Time to Decompress, Better Software and Open Communication with Management
When asked what ways workplaces should support landscapers, here’s what the respondents rated at the top (respondents could vote more than once):
1. Having paid vacation time (35%)
2. Recruiting more employees/purchasing automated lawn equipment (34%)
3. Implementing software or business tools to streamline work (33%)
4. Having team get-togethers & after hour beers (30%)
Many of the respondents offered up tips to fellow members in the industry. More importantly, respondents suggested not to neglect social activities and time with family.
The industry also seems to be well aware of how to address some of the challenges on ground to reduce stress. Recruiting more people and investment in technology are some of the top priorities on the industry’s wishlist.
Markedly, a frequently recurring comment from the respondents was that open communication with management was crucial for effective teamwork. One respondent emphatically commented: “Actions and words of affirmation go a long way!” It may not always feel like a priority to be praising your team in times when you are very preoccupied, but the feedback demonstrates that it can make a difference to team morale.
What’s Coming Up Next for the Industry and What Can Be Done to Avoid Stress?
Creative thinking and the implementation of new processes are crucial to reducing stress in the workplace. Business owners should lean on their teams for feedback on how to help with stress management. One of the respondents said it well: “One of the best ways to reduce workplace stress is to create and foster a culture of openness and transparency.”
All things considered, one thing that’s for certain is the power of this industry to come together as a community. While 2022 is shaping up to be a stressful year for many, we will come out stronger together.
About Marc Elliot
Marc Elliot is CEO and founder of GoMaterials, an online marketplace for sourcing plant materials for landscape professionals.