By Matthew R. Simpson and Steven Ferenczy Fisher & Phillips LLP
Millennials and Generation Z employees are flooding applicant pools, forcing dealerships across the country to determine the best methods for effectively hiring and retaining a successful team. Active engagement, along with comprehensive training on interpersonal skills, will ensure your dealership success in engaging this new flood of employees.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials (adults aged eighteen to thirty-four) now account for more than twenty-five percent of the U.S. population and are currently the largest generation in the American workforce. Additionally, individuals in Generation Z (those born in the mid-90’s to early 2000’s) are beginning to reach the working age and are expected to make up nearly twenty percent of the workforce within the next five years. Ready or not, dealerships must be prepared to evolve and adapt their practices to this changing environment.
Dealerships’ first step should be to place more emphasis on the hiring process. It is essential that dealerships take time to complete a comprehensive pre-employment evaluation, ensuring they are hiring the most qualified candidates. Additionally, dealerships should provide the applicant with full disclosure regarding the nature of the position. This may help decrease high levels of turnover, as Millennials often leave entry-level positions claiming the work was not what they expected.
Dealerships may also attract more Millennial talent by not only offering a competitively higher salary, but also by changing job titles. For example, why not call change Salesperson to Automotive Consultant? This title is much more attractive to younger generations, as it implies subject matter expertise and the requisite wisdom to consult others. Millennial and Generation Z employees present a unique situation, as most are less worried about their earning potential and more motivated by doing what makes them feel like a valuable asset to the community.
It is important to understand that Millennials adapt quickly to change and often encourage efficiency in the workplace, so they expect rapid progression, an engaging and meaningful career, recognition of their efforts, and constant feedback. Dealerships can meet such expectations by offering a strong professional development and mentoring program, providing flexible alternatives to facilitate work/life balance, and encouraging individuality within a team environment through recognition.
Traditionally, dealerships have required a substantial amount of experience working in either the automobile industry or customer service, but modern hiring trends no longer support this antiquated practice. Some dealerships prefer hiring applicants with no prior automobile experience to avoid retraining and refocusing them. Others rely on a steady pipeline through on-campus college recruitment to address Millennials’ willingness to change jobs so frequently.
Whatever model is adopted, innovation, flexibility, and constant engagement should be the main focus when hiring Millennials and Generation Z in the automobile dealership industry. The new wave of dealership employees are here to stay, so remember that the key to effectively hiring and retaining Millennial and Generation Z employees is to ENGAGE:
E – Evaluation
N – Notification of expectation
G – Give feedback
A – Advanced technology
G – Guidance and mentorship
E – Encouragement