As we all process 2021 and head into the 2022 season, we have a lot of lessons to apply. Chances are, efficiency had a lot to do with your success or failure last year. Let’s look at some labor-efficient practices that anyone can implement this season.

The first concern is labor recruitment. How many of you waited until March to send out help-wanted ads last year? Many of you probably never took them down. Getting out in front of the labor demand is crucial. Send out those job ads early, and think outside the box about where to advertise job openings. Try posting a job on a local Little League social media site. You may catch a parent who’s working from home and would love to get out of the house to mow a park for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

Secondly, look at the incentives you’re offering. Consider discounted park passes for the summer, pool passes for extended family, or even a gym membership. These are all things we may not have thought about before, but with the tight labor market, they could be the deciding factor for a job applicant. 

Once you’ve made those hires, take a look at retention. How do you keep employees engaged throughout the spring, summer, or fall? Retention falls on you being flexible as a manager. There are a lot of different ways to get things done. Don’t micromanage, but allow employees to make mistakes. Try providing subtle tips to increase productivity along the way. Let your employees take ownership of the job, and the pride will come with it. 

When you’re looking at your chemical program, there are several different things you may not be doing that could help you gain a couple of hours here and there. One is string trimming. The glyphosate and SureGuard combination is a real time-saver when you’re short on labor. Another way to save time is with combination fertilizers, such as your late-spring application of grub control and crabgrass preventer. You could order an extra application of a wetting agent to prevent employees from having to do that late-afternoon hand watering. When Little Leaguers head back to school, do weeds pop up in the infield? A couple of bags of Broadstar at the end of the season should help. 

Lastly is organization, which we can take care of in the off-season. Type up those job ads and be clear with your job descriptions. Have your chemical program ready to go with application rates included. Develop checklists for employees as they head into the job. Plan your employee outings now, as crew morale will be essential in the heat of the summer. With some strategizing now, you’ll be ready for an efficient season—whatever 2022 throws at us.