Winter time is a great time for reflection in the landscape business. There’s no denying that snow keeps us more than busy but in those lulls between snow events winter is a time for planning and improvement. Last winter my HR Manager and I were having one of our famous inspirational chats about our employees and the potential and growth we see for them. We were commenting on how some of our employees are die-hards. They love everything about us and would do anything for us. They think we are the best place in the world to work. My HR Manager stopped me and said that she’s always been a little bit envious when the list of New Jersey’s Best Places to Work was published because it’s such an honor to make the list and she wished Duke’s could make the list. Of course I said, “Well, why couldn’t we make the list? I know we’re a GREAT place to work!” doing my best Tony the Tiger impression. She then proceeded to tell me the process for application and how they survey all your employees and how they go over your company with a fine tooth comb and how we’re a landscape company and how having seasonal employees would probably be detrimental to our chances. I could see where she was coming from; it did look as though we would likely not meet their requirements for New Jersey’s Best Places to Work but it did give me an idea. If we surveyed all our employees, and asked them to be anonymous and honest, we would have a really good idea of where we stood as company, never mind our place in the running for NJ’s best. So we did; we surveyed them all. As we analyzed all the results, we found out quite a bit about ourselves. We found out things we already knew; that our employees were loyal (99%), would do anything to make sure the job got done(99%), and would help us to succeed(100%). We also found out things that we suspected; insurance benefits are important and in this economy we were going to have to try to come up with more affordable solutions to try to help our employees and their families. But possibly most important, we found out our strengths and weaknesses. Without these, clearly defined for us, how are we to improve? This is just the first step for us as we hope to move towards becoming one of New Jersey’s Best Places to Work. We know that working to the top doesn’t happen overnight but we are certainly committed to the climb.