This may be a good time to take note of your client properties to see if there are any invasive plants encroaching the properties with naturalized border areas. There are invasive plants thriving on compacted, disturbed areas in hellstrips or in new construction locations. This is the time of year the distinctive rusty burnt orange color of patches of knotweed are evident, and those are the areas to watch for in the early spring as the fresh green sprouts of this plant will be evident then with the first warmth melting the remaining snow on the ground.
Knotweed is visible in seasonal die-back now, pointing the way where to look for the fresh green sprouts.
What does this mean for your team and ultimately, your clients? Taking time to train your crew to recognize what the earliest sprouting invasive plants or the earliest leaves on plants such as Autumn Olive or Glossy Buckthorn can mean your eradication plans will be beneficial. Getting these plants hand pulled or even machine-dug can mean you are ahead of their wily ways. Understanding the importance of getting all the roots, and of the proper disposal will be important. This is the time of year to do some training on recognizing the life cycles of the most common invasive plants in New Hampshire so if you are using herbicides, you’ll be effective in managing or eradicating the plant and that also means cost reduction in your payroll costs and your costs buying those products!
How do we learn about the life cycles of the invasive plants in New Hampshire? The first go-to can be UNH Cooperative Extension with their fact sheets or with the USDA and their fact sheets and various videos. Offering your staff paid time for this type of training might be a consideration of yours, to help attract and retain motivated employees. You might also consider offering group training times, by arranging group training with speakers from the Extension service, tailoring a program for your specific region in the state.
Understanding the ways adults learn is important for your training programs to be effective. Offering multiple ways to get the information is essential so you are reaching everyone “where they’re at” and not risking any embarrassment on your part or on the employees. Between language acquisition (imagine learning this type of skill if you were learning a new language!) or different reading abilities in your native language, you can consider offering poster pictures of the plants you are on the lookout for, as well as checking sources for videos to show about the culprits.
When you are looking for web resources, bear in mind that some will be sponsored by companies with financial considerations in selling products – not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware of the sources of some video material. Understand that some people want to see examples and some want to have material to read later on their own. Providing the most access, in many ways, will mean your information is shared equitably AND is showcasing your expectations throughout the season.
Along with training about invasive plants and that service you can offer your clients, your company will benefit from different aspects of an overall recognition of company wellness.
Work in the winter can have its stressors – between your seasonal staff working diligently on snow removal and your upcoming seasonal workers wondering when they’ll be called back in for springtime, you may see a sense of apprehension coupled with anxiety about earning overtime or even getting on the payroll.
Expecting your crew members to care about learning about invasive plants might seem like a priority for your company’s mission and profile or brand, but your crew members’ sense of where they fit in the company brand image is something to focus on.
A well-rested workforce is going to be more important than ever as we wind up the winter workload and enter spring. Coming off two years of pandemic mentality has meant a lot of symptoms of insomnia and the health issues that can cause. Check the National Sleep Foundation for posters and info fact sheets to share with employees to show your care and concern for every crew member’s health, well being and ability to be a contributor to the company. Sharing your appreciation of every employee’s health and sleep hygiene can also result in increased work productivity! There’s plenty of data showing accidents increase with decreased sleep or poor sleep driving the workforce. That means your workman’s comp can be affected when there are accidents on job sites. This can be avoidable if everyone is bringing their best work habits to the job sites.
The New Hampshire Municipal Association’s professional journal Nov/Dec ’21 issue featured a thorough article about workplace wellness and concluded with an important tip: HAVE FUN! “Healthy Selfies” was one suggestion in the article. Create a bulletin board in the community area of your offices where employees share photos of how they had fun in their down time (heck, for our purposes, even at work if it was safe and helpful to the job site with camaraderie) to show you care about them holistically and how they are much more than “employees.”
So starting with keeping an eye out for invasive plants to manage or eradicate from your client properties this time of year, there’s a metaphor here. Keep an eye out for the invasive and disruptive ways poor work ethics can invade your company through employee attitudes reflecting their own stressors or mental health.
Visit your job sites, pay for training meetings, offer awards and incentives to reach goals, and most of all, don’t let things you can actually control invade your company wellness!
— by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP