The Ideal Employee

Jennifer Polanz
At the risk of further dividing an already divided nation, as we began the planning for the 2018 Green Profit Wage & Benefit Survey, we become curious about who is the better employee. Is it your “seasoned” retired workers, who likely come already instilled with some plant knowledge? Or your young and impressionable, fresh-faced high school lot?

There’s no right or wrong, and judging by the wide variety of answers, there’s merit and downsides to both. For example, retirees are more dependable and understand the work environment better. However, they can get stuck in their ways and demand more money. On the flip side, younger employees, while more physically capable of keeping up with a demanding schedule, are inconsistent and can be unreliable. Here’s more from our survey respondents in their own words:

“My seasoned employees have worked with me several years and know what needs to be done. They are not retired, but are young moms who can work the hours that I need. Young high school workers need supervision that I don’t always have time for—they don’t always see the next project or when plants need care now.”—a Michigan retailer

“It depends … we have a lot of younger customers and have had good luck with younger, high school or college-age students in that regard. Retirees have tended to have a lot of flexibility, so that has worked fairly well.—a grower-retailer from Illinois

“I like Millennials—they need a little more face time, but (are) easier to inspire.”—a retailer from Ontario

“Depends. Right now, I have a mature 16-year-old who is eager to learn and shows up to work on time. Retirees sometimes work out, but want big money for their ‘experience.’ They can be cocky know-it-alls who disrupt the even flow of business. Age doesn’t matter—they all want to have their cellphones glued to their hands/face!”—a retailer from Pennsylvania

“Young for energy and strength (but not too dependable). Old for stability and knowledge. It takes both.”—a grower-retailer from Kansas

“We hire mostly recent college grads or younger middle-aged moving in to hort as a career change. Teenagers don’t apply and retirees don’t want to work in our fast-paced, high-volume sales environment.”—a grower-retailer from California

“I think it is valuable to have both young energy and older, more knowledgeable employees. I believe they can work well together and learn from each other.”—a retailer from New York

“We’ve had really mixed results. I think it ultimately depends on the person: their drive, knowledge and willingness to learn. It is always great to have experience, but if someone is willing to learn and you can truly shape an employee, that is pretty invaluable, too.”—a grower-retailer in South Dakota

Special thanks to our sponsor: Florasearch, Inc.

Thanks so much to Allison Westbrook and Adriana Heikkila for their hard work collecting and tabulating the data! GP