By Perry Watson IV, Director of Minority and Women Retail Programs, Solera/DealerSocket
As dealers look to ramp up their workforces, many will struggle to fill open positions. This is not news, as high employee turnover in the auto industry has been the “norm” for a long time now.
What has changed, however, are the expectations of people who are looking for jobs. Today’s workforce will not come in, work for 35 years and retire with a gold watch. Workplace expectations have changed dramatically over the past 10 years, so before you advertise open positions, it’s important to realize that businesses must evolve their culture to today’s workforce. It’s not the workforce’s job to evolve to our practices.
What does today’s workforce want? In a nutshell: engagement, which is a fancy way of saying they want a mental and emotional connection to their work. What are the things that make up this connection? I call these employee value propositions (EVPs).
Purpose. What is your purpose and passion? What inspires employees to come to work at your dealership every day? The reason cannot be money. Purpose is often stated in a company’s core values. People want to work for you because they believe what you believe, and you want to hire people who believe what you believe.
Belonging. Employees want to feel wanted, accepted and included as part of a team or organization. This is a reason why diversity and inclusion initiatives are so important because they help give people a sense of belonging.
Relationships. Employees come to work expecting to build relationships with their co-workers and managers. You want to create an environment conducive to this because employees who have friends at work will be much less likely to leave their friends behind. Organized social outings for employees can help deepen relationships outside the dealership.
Leadership. Gone are the days of authoritative micro-managers who bark orders at employees. Employees want to be led, inspired, and they want leaders who can roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty beside them.
Meaningful Work. Employees want to put their skills to use, but they want those skills to support a cause they believe in. How does your dealership support the community? Involve your employees in local causes and charities.
Autonomy. Nobody wants to be micro-managed. This is actually a good thing because when employees are in control of their work they feel more connected to their work. And when they’re not being micro-managed, they can free up their minds to develop creative solutions to problems.
Appreciation & Recognition. This is an absolute must nowadays. Employees want to know their managers value them, appreciate them and care about their contributions. They want personalized awards that have meaning to them. You can never show too much appreciation and recognition, so make sure this is something you are constantly doing. Also promote this in your job advertisements.
Learning & Development. Employees want to master their roles, pick up new skills and face new challenges. If someone feels stagnant they will not be engaged in their work, so be sure to develop initiatives that help employees further their careers.
Safety. I don’t mean safety in terms of not being exposed to hazardous materials or dangerous conditions, although that’s very important. What I mean by safety is that your employees must feel safe from discrimination, harassment and bullying. Also, make sure they are safe to offer their opinions without being ridiculed for it.
Winning. Who does not want to play for a winning team? Everyone rallies around a winning team, so be sure to celebrate individual and corporate successes.
Make sure these EVPs are promoted in job advertisements and in other outreach to potential candidates. Somewhere your perfect employee is out there, feeling a lack of engagement in their current position. Strong EVPs can inspire that person to apply for your open position.
About the Author
Perry Watson IV, Director of Minority and Women Retail Programs at Solera/DealerSocket, oversees the company’s internal and external diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and partnerships. Perry is a former General Manager and part-owner of Lexus of Mishawaka in South Bend, IN. He currently serves as president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) NextGen membership.