Best Practices Dealers are Using to Engage Millennial Employees and Retain Top Talent

Millennials. Their impact on your dealership is a hot topic of discussion and presents managers with new challenges in the workplace.  Millennials are the face of the new workforce as well as your new customers. According to a Gallup study, roughly 73 million millennials were born between 1980 and 1996, and they will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020. Being able to understand and act upon the similarities and differences between millennials and previous generations, brings a tremendous potential for growth. Here are 6 adaptations dealers are incorporating to help engage millennial employees and retain top talent.

Manage technology and work ethic

Set clear expectations, goals, and deadlines for completing work. Millennials are ambitious and hardworking, yet seen as time wasters with phones, text and social media. Offer phone/social time once work is completed as a way to help manage work ethic.  Dealers weigh in on solutions to this challenge in the Rural Lifestyle article “What to do about Facebook, Texting and other Time Wasters”.

Manage Schedules

To a millennial time is more valuable than money. This change in mindset is leading to challenges for work hours and schedules at dealerships. To adapt to this change, new processes need to address millennial’s high expectations for work/life balance. One way to get started is to invite employees to provide input when planning schedules, find solutions that meet both the needs of the business and the millennial’s value of time. For example, a choice could be to work one long evening/weekend shift or two shorter shifts. Dealers can also leverage time in certain departments by specifying the amount of work to be done, not the amount of time spent at work. Allowing input on scheduling and having clear expectations for output and time off work will engage your employees while at work and help reduce distractions.

Create loyalty and retain top talent

Millennials are often classified as having no loyalty to their company and no respect for authority. Tips for Keeping Millennial Employees explains: “Millennial employees have great respect for leaders and loyalty. But no, as a rule, they don’t respect authority just because… every ounce of loyalty and respect must be earned. But when it is earned, it is given fiercely”.  Loyalty to the individual’s leaders is the main reason millennials stay in a job, and dissatisfaction with the boss is the number one reason they quit. Dealers gain loyalty by practicing servant leadership and encouraging managers to guide and advocate for their employees. The hiring and onboarding processes highlight company values and shows the employee how they will be successful on the job. Transforming culture and processes to meet the needs of the new generation, reinforces and secures their loyalty and keeps precious talent from walking out the door.

Develop managers to become coaches and mentors

Millennials want to learn, develop new skills, do their jobs well and to be shown not told. Dealerships have created facilitated learning programs or “show me training” where supervisors first demonstrate the task, followed by the employee showing the newly learned skill. Providing a structure for questions, guidance and advice builds trust and creates confidence in being successful.  Save the slide shows and book learning for content-rich topics such as dealership procedures and be sure to reinforce in person afterward.

Communicate regularly and provide frequent feedback

Regular meetings help millennials know how they are doing and what they need to do to improve.  Dealerships that hold weekly check-ins show employees that their contributions are valued, resulting in higher levels of performance and engagement. Use this time to reinforce company goals, including customer experience best practices, to keep employees motivated and on the right path. Small successes should be rewarded more frequently instead of annually. For example, dealerships are making smaller quarterly promotions that add up to the annual level, increasing motivation and reducing turnover.

Create opportunities for collaboration

Millennials want to be a part of a collaborative work culture that provides a sense of accomplishment. Dealerships that ask for input on solving problems and reaching goals, close the loop with their employees to create a high degree of engagement. Assigning employees the responsibility to solve a customer experience or process problem, can often result in more relevant solutions, as they are closest to the customer and process.

The practice of identifying and developing people compounds the positives of your organization, because bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in a team.

– John C. Maxwell