Shifting Gears – Tips for Auto Dealers to Attract and Retain Millennial Workers
February 16, 2017

The millennial, that often sought-after, yet elusive young, tech savvy worker that most of the U.S. Workforce seems to be struggling to tie down. In fact, a recent Gallup report indicated that turnover by millennial workers is costing the U.S. economy upwards of $30 Billion annually. Yes that’s “BILLION” with a “B”! So, what’s the deal? Is there a secret formula to keeping millennials on the job?

One industry particularly plagued with high millennial turnover is the auto industry. The 2016, NADA Dealership Workforce Study reported the industry grappled with a 52% turnover rate among millennials last year. When compared to the 21% national rate as reported by Gallup, the picture starts looking pretty bleak for millennials. But there’s hope. Let’s take a look at a few strategies car dealers can adopt to start hanging on to young workers and start saving their bottom line.

Pay Attention

One thing is for sure, you cannot afford to simply think of millennials as “young kids” anymore. Millennials account for 38% of today’s workforce and are expected to make up 75% of the total workforce by 2025. That’s less than a decade!

In addition to paying attention to the millennial workforce, dealers need to focus on engaging them once they’ve hired them. Millennials are notorious for not connecting to their jobs from an emotional and/or behavior standpoint.

To combat disengagement, HR pros recommend that employers make millennial workers feel included, recognized, and part of a greater work-family. Companies can do this by having a collaboration platform where they can share ideas or ask for advice, allowing younger workers to contribute to the organization’s social media accounts, or giving them the responsibility of organizing a company outing.

Millennials are also drawn to a larger purpose. Research has shown that by and larger, millennials feel encouraged to volunteer or participate in their company’s work causes. Auto manufacturers like Toyota have found success by engaging employees in causes that are important to the community such as Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Looking for a place to start searching for causes to get your millennial workforce behind? Check out Volunteer Match for a list of organizations in your community you can consider.

Hire for the Right Fit

Researchers, David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg, spent seven years observing sales performance in the retail, automotive, insurance, and mutual funds industries to determine the characteristics that can predict sales success.

Their findings were published in the Harvard Business Review article “What Makes a Good Salesman.”

Their basic theory states that a good salesperson must have two basic qualities for success: empathy and ego drive.

As a recent NY Times article pointed out, empathy is one of the millennial generation’s highest values. In stark contrast to the “Me Generation” label previously associated with their generation, millennials are leading a more empathetic view with a focus on social justice & responsibility, and a concern for the environment.

With the surge of social media and social bragging, millennials are driven by showing the fruits of their labors. Today’s auto dealers and other sales driving organizations need to tap into this desire by focusing on millennial workers with the need to make the sale for personal or ego-driven purposes to elevate their social status.

Give them Career vs “Just a Job”

As they progress, millennials have shattered the stereotypes about themselves. And the latest research shows that millennial workers are breaking up one more preconceived notion of them as restless job hoppers. More than 50% of millennials want to climb to the highest level of their organizations. So, giving them a true career path is an absolute must to ensure they stick around.

Experts suggest developing specialized training programs and continuing education opportunities geared toward career advancement. Companies like Chrysler are expanding the training program to offer employees opportunities to earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree at Strayer University. “The new benefit is geared toward attracting and retaining the right kind of talent,” says AL Gardner, Vice President of Dealer Network Development and President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand.

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