Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Patrick Hussey on staff resourcing, retaining and saying goodbye in the horticulture sector


There are many different types of roles and personalities across the spectrum of horticulture staff resourcing. On top of that, there are differing timelines, to fit peak demand and times related mainly to seasonality in our sector.

Industries often have their own standard timelines for replacing staff. For instance, in some fields, such as retail or hospitality, replacements might be hired relatively quickly due to high turnover rates, while in specialised fields like healthcare or technology, the hiring process might take longer due to specific skill requirements.

In horticulture, we need to consider the seasonal requirements and nature of the job.

Companies have their own hiring procedures, which can affect the hiring timeline. This includes steps such as job posting, screening resumes, conducting interviews, reference checks, and making an offer. Some organisations have streamlined processes that can expedite hiring, while others might have longer decision-making periods.

In horticulture on average, the hiring process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. For lower-level or entry-level positions, it might take around a month or so. Mid-level positions might take two to three months, while senior or executive-level roles might take several months more due to the need for comprehensive evaluations and negotiations.

Efforts to streamline the process, such as using technology for initial screenings, conducting simultaneous interviews, or having a dedicated hiring team, can help speed up the process. However, the priority is often to strike a balance between speed and finding the right fit for the position and company culture.

The duration of the hiring process can vary widely based on several of the following factors:

Job level and complexity: higher-level or specialised positions often require a longer hiring process due to specific skill requirements and the need for a more thorough evaluation.

Company procedures: each company has its own hiring process, including steps like posting the job, reviewing applications, conducting interviews (which might involve multiple rounds), reference checks, and making the final offer. Some companies have streamlined processes, while others have more extensive or slower processes.

Industry standards: certain horticulture sectors have quicker or slower hiring processes based on their norms and requirements. For instance, landscape businesses might have quicker hiring processes compared to government agencies, where the process can be more bureaucratic and lengthy.

Market conditions: the job market’s state can also influence hiring timelines. In a competitive job market, employers might need more time to find suitable candidates due to increased competition and higher candidate selectivity. Due to candidate shortage across all sectors of horticulture, timelines are generally ever expanding.

Location: hiring processes can also differ based on geographic location. Urban areas with a high concentration of talent might have faster processes due to access to a larger pool of candidates.

The most important piece of advice is not to rush it. In many panel discussions at horticulture trade shows across Europe, we hear the same answer to the following question: What was the worst mistake you made in business? Choosing the wrong person is the recurring answer, with many still not believing how they could have got it so wrong.


Improving staff retention involves creating an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to stay. Here are some ideas to boost staff retention:

Competitive compensation and benefits: ensure salaries and benefits are competitive within the industry. Consider additional perks like healthcare, retirement plans, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities.

Clear career paths: outline clear career progression paths for employees. Offer training, mentorship programs, and opportunities for advancement within the company.

Recognition and appreciation: recognize and appreciate employees’ efforts regularly. Celebrate milestones, achievements, and hard work, whether through public acknowledgment, awards, or incentive programs.

Work-life balance: promote a healthy work-life balance. Offer flexible work hours, remote work options, and time-off policies that support employees’ personal lives.

Positive work environment: foster a positive workplace culture. Encourage open communication, support collaboration, and create a respectful and inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued.

Employee development: invest in employee growth and development. Offer continuous learning opportunities, workshops, and training programs to help employees enhance their skills.

Feedback and evaluation: provide regular feedback and performance evaluations. Constructive feedback helps employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement, fostering personal and professional growth.

Supportive management: train and support managers to be effective leaders. Managers play a crucial role in employee satisfaction and retention.

Employee engagement initiatives: implement programs that boost employee engagement, such as team-building activities, social events, or volunteer opportunities that align with company values.

Health and wellness programs: offer wellness initiatives like gym memberships, mental health resources, or wellness challenges to promote employee well-being.

Align values with company culture: ensure that company values align with the organisational culture. When employees resonate with the company’s values, they’re more likely to stay engaged and committed.

Remember, every business is unique, so tailor these strategies to fit your company culture and the specific needs and preferences of your employees. Regularly assessing and refining these initiatives based on feedback and evolving needs is essential for long-term staff retention success.

Saying Goodbye

Once someone has made the decision to go, if you have followed the advice below, you may be able to hope that person will remember you as a good employer. This is important for positive employer reviews when it comes to public and, more importantly, former employees’ own personal professional networks.

Ensuring employees leave positive reviews about your company involves creating a positive work environment and experience. In many ways, the following advice repeats the employee retention advice above. But it’s advice worth repeating. You never want to ‘say goodbye’ to your key staff, but if it does happen here are some ways to encourage positive employer reviews from them:

Provide a positive work environment: foster a supportive, inclusive, and welcoming workplace culture where employees feel valued and respected. Encourage teamwork, open communication, and transparency.

Recognise and appreciate contributions: acknowledge and appreciate employees’ efforts and achievements regularly. Recognise their contributions through public acknowledgment, awards, or personalised notes.

Offer growth opportunities: provide opportunities for professional growth and development. Offer training programs, mentorship opportunities, and clear paths for career advancement.

Ensure work-life balance: promote a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, reasonable work hours, and supportive policies for personal time off.

Listen and act on feedback: create avenues for employees to share feedback and concerns. Act on their feedback and make tangible improvements based on their suggestions.

Provide competitive compensation and benefits: offer competitive salaries, benefits, and perks that align with industry standards. This includes healthcare, retirement plans, bonuses, and additional incentives.

Emphasise work meaningfulness: help employees understand the importance of their roles in contributing to the company’s mission and goals. Show how their work has a positive impact on the organisation.

Support well-being initiatives: prioritise employee well-being by offering wellness programs, mental health resources, and initiatives that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Invest in a strong leadership team: train and support managers to be effective leaders who communicate well, inspire, and support their teams.

Encourage work relationships: foster a sense of community and belonging among employees. Encourage team-building activities, social events, and initiatives that help employees connect with each other.

Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion: embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment where different perspectives are valued. Ensure policies and practices promote equity and fairness.

Conduct and act on exit interviews: conduct meaningful exit interviews to understand reasons for departure and areas for improvement. Use this feedback to make necessary changes.

Encourage employees to share their experiences and reviews on platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or company review sites. However, the key to receiving positive reviews is not just asking for them but genuinely creating an environment where employees feel motivated and satisfied enough to naturally share both their negative and positive experiences.

Times and people have changed. The lifelong employee or even someone who stays for periods over five years are becoming rarer and rarer. Employees are braver about job-hopping to get all of the required work experience they desire.

Be remembered as the employer who treated them well and was fair. They might just choose your business when they do decide to settle into their chosen career path, and bring back with them a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Patrick Hussey is the lead recruitment consultant at HortiRecruit. Contact:

Why HortiRecruit?:

Ireland’s only specialist niche horticulture and land based skills recruiter, utilising the network power of and Horticulture.Jobs

We can help you to get the best out of each role on your career path by aligning you with employers who will appreciate and reward you for your qualifications, knowledge and experience. Your assigned recruiter can assist you to make all of the right decisions on your career journey.


Patrick Hussey
Head Recruiter for Edible, Garden Retail, Environment Phone: 089-2557543; E-mail:

Joleen O’Donnell
Recruiter for Amenity, Land Based Skills,
Phone: 089-4067712; E-mail:

Valerie Deering
Recruiter for Craft & Head Gardeners, Design
Phone: 089-4068694; E-mail:

Joseph Blair
Recruiter for Climate, Sustainability, Enviroment
Phone: 087-9212044; E-mail: