© 2017 Auto/Mate, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
by Dave Druzynski, Chief People Officer
Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection that employees feel toward their workplace. It affects every part of your business, including revenues, customer experience, turnover, talent acquisition and brand awareness.
Studies show that companies with high levels of employee engagement also have high levels of customer retention, attract top talent easily, have stellar reputations and are more profitable.
Creating a workplace focused on employee engagement isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and effort. As a business owner, whatever you decide to invest in engagement will deliver a healthy ROI in the following ways:
1) Attract and Retain Top Talent
Employee turnover rates in dealerships are higher than average, and turnover is expensive. The labor market is pretty tight right now. To attract the best talent you need to differentiate your organization. It’s not just about offering the best pay or benefits; you need to offer a complete package. People want to work at a company that offers them a sense of purpose and belonging, a career path, a strong culture and they want to be recognized and genuinely appreciated for their efforts.
2) Better Employee Performance/Productivity
Engaged employees have a 37 percent lower absenteeism rate than industry averages. Employees who love their jobs are far more productive and take care of your customers.
Another advantage of creating a workplace with engaged employees is that it helps you have those difficult conversations with employees who are underperforming. If you are micromanaging and constantly berating your employees over minor issues, they won’t take you seriously and they will work just hard enough not to get fired. If you are acting in a coaching capacity, and you show you are invested in your employees, they will be responsive to your feedback. They will work hard for you because they want to, not because they have to.
3) Increases Customer Loyalty
Think about how you feel when you walk into your favorite restaurant or retail store. There’s a buzz in the air. Employees are enthusiastic, energetic and they take great care of you. The entire atmosphere just feels good. Isn’t that how you want your customers to feel when they walk into your store? Customer experience is more about emotion than process. Make your customers feel good and they will keep coming back.
4) Increases Company Revenue and Profitability
According to Quantum Workplace’s 2016 Employee Engagement Trends Report, companies with engaged employees realize:
If you want higher profits and long-term growth, developing a workplace culture that employees love is a surefire way to make this happen.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
The first step to improving employee engagement is to measure where you are. For many dealers this requires an open mind. You may believe your workplace culture is fine and that the majority of your employees are happy. Be prepared to find out otherwise and don’t take the criticism to heart.
The best way to measure engagement is to conduct annual surveys with your employees. One of the easiest and most reliable ways to do this is to enter your dealership into a “Top Workplaces” or “Best Places to Work” program in your community. Typically, these are sponsored by local business journals and newspapers. Automotive News also runs an annual “Best Dealerships to Work For” contest.
Employees feel comfortable with these surveys because they are anonymous and administered by a third party. However, as the business owner, you do get to see the results (anonymous, of course). Honest feedback from employees is essential to understanding your current workplace culture.
Identify weak areas and strong areas. Benchmark where you are compared to other dealerships and also to other businesses and industries in your region. Remember, you’re not just competing against other dealerships for employees. You’re competing against every other business in your community.
The hardest part is commitment. You must act on the results. The worst thing you can do is to ask your employees how you can improve, and then not make any improvements. This might require fundamental changes to the way you manage and operate. Not everybody will be happy, but culture change has to come from the top down. You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Employee engagement is real, tangible and can be measured. As a dealer, it’s one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in your business. If you or your managers don’t have the time to devote to this endeavor, hire someone for that purpose or work with a consulting firm. The savings from the reduction in employee turnover will more than pay for this effort.