Staffing Plans During a Pandemic

Ellen C. Wells

Special thanks to our sponsor:

Many of you are coming off a record sales year. Growers were planting everything they had, you were selling at quite a clip and customers were buying it all. Reason? Yes, you have great products and people love to garden. But the elephant in the room here is COVID-19. The emergence of a global pandemic made people do a lot of things they’d never done before. Both flowers and flour were hot commodities in 2020.

We know the impact the coronavirus had on garden centers in 2020, but how might it impact planning for 2021? As the Ball Publishing staff prepared the 2021 Green Profit Wage & Benefit Survey, we saw it as an ideal opportunity to ask respondents how they planned to change staffing levels and training procedures in the face of a lingering pandemic.

Taking a look at the Staffing Changes chart and you’ll see that 40% of your peers plan to add staff for next year—a whopping 11 percentage point increase over last year. The folks undecided about what to do about staffing went up four percentage points and shows how retailers are trying to remain flexible amidst the uncertainty of the virus. Teasing apart the raw data a bit more, you find two interesting results: 57% of respondents from the South plan to add staff with 29% making no staffing changes; and 22% of respondents in the West plan on adding staff with 67% making no changes. The Southern and Western staffing strategies are essentially flipped.

Scattered through this article are quotes from respondents about how they’re preparing staff and stores while under the virus threat. Read on for some inspiration. GP

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