First, more bad news about dealer challenges in attracting qualified employees: According to the latest Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing Study, 20% of all dealership staff in the next six months will likely look for another job. And one-third of non-management employees feel neutral or unsatisfied with their jobs.
According to Cox Automotive, those figures show a possible high risk of dealerships losing some of their sales staff, and those staff members turn over at an 80% rate.
But now, the good news: Dealerships can reverse that trend, said Cox Automotive vice president research and market intelligence, Isabelle Helms. The Cox study shows that younger generations are more interested in dealership jobs than older generations.
“A new generation is entering the workforce and bringing with them a renewed interest in working at a dealership,” Helms said in a news release. “To attract and retain employees in this highly competitive job market, dealerships should understand which benefits and cultural attributes employees value most and take action to effect positive changes within their store.”
Cox Automotive says that U.S. employee turnover is rapidly increasing, and competition for talent is redefining the workforce. Dealerships are a main sector that struggles to attract and retain skilled workers.
Among dealership staff members considering a new job, what are the reasons for why they are considering leaving? According to the survey, 57% said better pay was a reason, 43% said work-life balance, 39% said no opportunity for advancement, 28% said long hours and 23% said they wanted better benefits.
More than 30% of Gen Z and young millennials are interested in working for a dealership, according to the study. That number goes even higher when dealerships present roles other than sales to them, according to the study. And that percentage rate is almost 10% higher than interest from older millennials and Gen X.
The good news continues: Approximately 61 million members of Gen Z are entering the U.S. workforce, so to attract and retain this younger, tech-savvy talent, dealerships can work on building a culture that can make that possible.
But back to the bad news: The study shows that dealerships must address large gaps in today’s auto retail workplace culture to win over this next generation, according to the 2019 Dealership Staffing Study.
One of those gaps: Dealership employee engagement is fading. One-third of dealership staff employees are not engaged nor excited about their jobs.
Another gap is that only half of non-management employees say their manager sets regular goal-setting meetings with them to stretch their capabilities and increase their skills.
Two more gaps:
— Work/life balance. It can lead to staff turnover. Forty percent of former dealership staff members report leaving because of that issue.
— Dealerships are not using the latest technology, with only 39% saying they are.
“Dealers can’t afford to take their eyes off their employees’ needs,” said Cox Automotive University senior director Bob Kostkan. “With record high dealership turnover and a low unemployment rate of 3.7% as of June 2019, it’s critical that dealership leaders improve productivity while also enhancing employee engagement and retention. These are controllable issues that must be addressed to maximize customer experience and profitability.”
To create a culture that makes employees feel valued and shows them they have future growth opportunities, dealerships need to act now, Cox Automotive said. John Cragg, executive vice president for the Penske Automotive Group’s East Region who is responsible for dozens of rooftops and thousands of employees, became aware of a blind spot while participating in the Cox Automotive SHIFT/Reinvent Program in 2015: He was “delegating” when he should have been “empowering.”
Because of that new awareness, he and his human resources and marketing teams worked to shift the focus to empower people and provide opportunities for them to make more significant contributions. Since that time, Cragg has seen consistent improvement in employee turnover and satisfaction each year. Outpacing industry averages, even for the highest performers, his region now shows the highest employee satisfaction scores and lowest turnover in the company.
But to help boost productivity and efficiency for employees, dealerships should also invest in modern, user-friendly technology, according to Cox Automotive. The younger generations expect it, and access to that technology is a must for businesses to succeed in today’s digital age, Cox Automotive said.
“To get the most out of technology, dealerships must also implement ongoing training opportunities,” Cox Automotive said. “Equipping employees with the necessary tools to help them grow their skillsets and better take advantage of new technology will create happier workers and a more optimized workflow.”