Photos courtesy of Britton Nursery
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Joey Clark

It is undoubtedly essential for the future health of any business to be attracting and retaining young talent. This is evidenced by the abundance of generic advice about how to make your workplace more millenial friendly. Everyone knows that flexible hours, meaningful affirmation, happy hours, and casual-Friday-every-week can bring in a flood of applications from millennials, but those perks can be found anywhere.

Attract young people who want to actually work, you ask? I’m sure that nearly all of us have had a millennial employee or two come through our doors who left us shaking our heads and bemoaning how little value they provided. As a millennial myself, I submit that as long as there are 20 year olds, there will be bums. So, I humbly ask that you don’t let some who you’ve come across ruin it for the rest of us. Millennials are driven by their passions, and when placed in a situation they love, they will stand out for their loyalty, creativity, and yes, even hard work. 

The horticulture industry has a few specific, unique characteristics that are especially attractive to millennials, and chances are your business already has some of these qualities.

Real work: The horticulture industry can provide hard work that feels real, tangible and meaningful. For a generation that can swing from being wildly fanciful to intensely pragmatic, spending your days sweating among trees, shrubs and flowers has a tangible quality. This irresistible aesthetic is magnetic to young people who grew up on a steady diet of air conditioning, televisions and video games.

Environmental responsibility: The connection between horticulture and the environment is an easy one to make, but it is the key to a much deeper ideology that draws many millennials to the industry. This generation is very conscious of environmental care and conservation of nature, and many millennials want to do more than just reuse their grocery bags to pick up “lawn ornaments” left behind by their Aussie-mix puppy. Working at a job where they can grow trees, plant flowers and provide for bees and butterflies satisfies a desire to enliven and restore this beautiful planet. 

Unconventional career paths: Jobs in horticulture provide a stark contrast to the generally accepted picture of careers. This contrast paints a picture that is much more vivid and attractive to many millennials who are somewhat disenfranchised with the typical 9-to-5 climb up the corporate ladder. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be eager for advancement, but they may take special pride in a job that is radically different from those of their cubicle-confined peers.

Seasonal rhythm: The horticulture industry is inseparably tied to the ebb and flow of the seasons, and the whims of Mother Nature. The seasonal change, not just from year to year, but even day to day, appeals to another deep value of millennials: freedom. It’s hard to feel trapped in a workplace that provides a constantly changing atmosphere, where even the definition of a “normal” day can change in a matter of weeks.  

Hopefully this list sheds some light on a few aspects of your business, which might attract a few more youthful faces, or provides some ideas about how you could specifically target millennials in your hiring. You might have even recognized a few points that resonate with you, and remind you that, just maybe, you’re not quite as different from us millennials as you thought.

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