Why Get Certified? The Employee’s Perspective

February 28, 2023

We all know the main reasons to become certified, right? The echo chamber repeats “better pay…increased credibility…employee retention…” and so on. These reasons may be falling on deaf ears, not because they are untrue, but because they are tired, overused, or are just plain unrelatable.

I’d like to look at it from a different perspective, something more personal, as a recent NHCLP myself (as of 2020). Why was becoming a New Hampshire Landscape Professional worth it to me, as a person with over ten years’ field experience and a five-year stretch with my employer? I think that the benefits reach across a wide net of positive outcomes that contribute to a better quality of life for individuals who decide to take the plunge.

Wealth and employment are two of the big-ticket indicators of quality of life. The relationship between these contributors and the topic at hand is clear, as one generally begets the other. When we look at some of the other indicators, the view becomes less clear. I would like to look at how professional development (ahem – becoming an NHCLP) can contribute to other areas of an individual’s life that are often credited with influencing the measure of one’s quality of life: social belonging, education, and mental health.

Certification supports a better quality of life for individual employees, which in turn supports the success of the employer. I’m going to run through some possible scenarios that explore how expanding your education and skill set can lead to a better quality of life for employees.

Feeling Valued by Your Employer Leads to A Sense of Belonging
Scenario 1: Your employer inquires where your interests lie in the industry and shares ideas for career paths and opportunities that fit your interests. The company invests in you and your interests by enrolling you in the Plant Identification course through NHLA. You feel seen and valued by your employer and, in turn, are more likely to reciprocate the commitment. You become a human plant-cyclopedia and spread the wealth of knowledge to your colleagues, starting a contagious zest for plant knowledge that spreads throughout the company that inspires your coworkers to follow your lead. This leads to a positive evolution in the company’s culture.

Scenario 2: Although you have been working in garden maintenance, you express interest in stonework, specifically dry-stacked stone walls. You are switched over to the construction division to gain experience and are introduced to opportunities offered by The Stone Trust. You become one of the students in a Basic Level class [more info at: thestonetrust.org/7-7-2022-cont-intro-nh/] and bring that knowledge back to the field to continue to enhance your skill set on the job, eventually to demonstrate enough new skills to warrant a pay raise.

Continuing Your Education is Good for Your Mental Health
Scenario 1: As you learn more about your craft—whether it be in irrigation, turf management, garden bed maintenance, pruning specialist, design, sales, hardscapes—the value of your work becomes more and more clear. It’s important to take pride in your work. As you learn more about the ins and outs of your specialty and/or profession, you’ll come to appreciate the final product, and the value of your expertise, that much more.

Scenario 2: You, a hardscape salesperson, find yourself in a conversation with your cousin at Thanksgiving about plants. They want to know why their hydrangeas aren’t blooming. You don’t work with plants often and before you took the Plant ID course and got certified you would dread these types of encounters. Thanks to your certification through NHLA, you have enough plant-cyclopedia in you that you can carry the conversation and offer solutions or resources that may help your cousin. Helping people makes you feel good about yourself, and you have developed more self-confidence.

How New NHCLP’s Contribute to their Employer’s Success
Scenario 1: You are training a new employee, and they comment on your skill set, wondering how long it takes to get to your paygrade and level of expertise. You reply accordingly and tell your trainee how your employer supports professional development for their staff, using your own story as an example. The wheels in your trainee’s head begin to turn as they ponder their own future in landscaping. This encounter leads to another staff member who is engaged in his or her trade and takes care in providing a good product and/or service. This level of support and engagement increases employee retention for the company, and the resources the company spends on recruiting can now be directed elsewhere.

Scenario 2: You are an account manager in a conversation with a customer about how a patio installation went. They share how happy they are with the end result, but how the best part of the experience was the interactions with your crew members, commenting specifically on their ability to problem-solve quickly and answer any questions the customer had about the work in a way that was easy to understand. Later you find that this customer has left a positive review of the company online. Future customers who see positive reviews like this one online find it easier to establish trust in your company’s credibility. You find that your customer base is expanding not only because of the positive reviews, but because your happy customer has also referred you to folks in the community who are looking to get similar work done at their own properties. You feel great about your crews’ work as well as your own work in facilitating the successful projects that have led to more business for your company.

I hope that reading this article sheds light on the fact that the benefits of becoming an NHCLP go deeper than just being able to get a raise and retaining employees. It’s important to think about the reasons behind the obvious benefits that may have a lasting effect on an individual’s quality of life. Having an employer that supports an individual’s own professional success and encourages them to follow their interests leads to a sense of belonging both within the company and within the community of NHCLPs. More education leads to more career opportunities and skill sets, and greater pride and self-confidence in one’s work.

These changes may influence the company’s success through a positive company culture, increase in employee retention, high quality products and services, and customer satisfaction. I’m sure you’ll agree that those are all key elements in having a successful company.

– by Daisy Chinburg, NHCLP