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Dealership Culture: 3 Ways to Create a More Modern Workplace

Written By: Adam Robinson
Posted on February 23, 2017

The need to foster a robust and positive company culture has gone from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” as millennials become the majority of the U.S. workforce. Retail automotive dealerships must evaluate their workforce culture to ensure they not only attract, but also retain, today’s most qualified talent.

By offering an environment that contains the benefits, flexibility, and career structure important to the millennial demographic, companies will create a better place to work and improve job satisfaction resulting in higher productivity and higher sales.

Shaping existing culture with a more modern approach is a growing trend implemented by some of the top dealerships today, and most others can easily follow suit.

Here are three ways to get started:

1. Involve the Leadership Team

Millennial employees are not interested in office politics and the traditional “rat race,” but rather want to be part of an energizing work environment where they feel like they matter. They want to feel like management is honest about what is expected to be accomplished by them and where they stand, at all times. Leaders should maintain transparency to prevent employees from feeling like they are being kept out of the loop because employees will quickly lose trust in management. Leaders should also consistently and concisely convey expectations and ensure that their vision is known and shared by all.

Employees want to get to know who their bosses are as real people, and there are many ways leaders can step out from behind their titles. For example, Audi Des Moines holds monthly barbeque lunches where employees have a chance to interact on a more personal level and cultivate relationships, as well as several sponsored events such as bowling nights and baseball or hockey games.

Today’s leaders are encouraged to facilitate an engaged team, promoting dialogue but not controlling the conversation. Employees should be allowed to show passion for their job, by being invited to step outside their traditional roles and explore other responsibilities within the company, trusting in their leaders along the way.

2. Provide Recognition and Resonate with Ideals

Studies show that out of the top perks employees appreciate from their workplace, half appreciate more employee recognition, a higher percentage than those who say they’d prefer cash incentives. A company providing substantial recognition and rewards to its staff will provide top talent with an incentive to stay and remain highly productive.

Companies must not only provide meaningful feedback to employees but should do so in a timely manner. Employees report a 20 percent increase in work satisfaction after receiving feedback. When feedback was delayed, however, it increased employee suspicion, making them nervous and less productive. Gone are the days when annual reviews were the bulk of management face-time, replaced by a constant stream of engagement.

Feedback can include non-financial incentives and personalized employee rewards. For example, Capitol Subaru of Salem recognizes an employee of the month from multiple departments, providing them with recognition at the company meeting, dinner certificates, a wall plaque, and entry into an Employee of the Year program for cash and other prizes. Not only does this make the employee feel appreciated in between periods of promotion, it strengthens the relationship between managers and employees—and studies show workers are loyal to their managers more than they are to the company.

Millennials want to work for a company that aligns with their values and ideals, and they appreciate a company who talks the talk and genuinely walks the walk. For example, if your dealership claims to support a local charity or organization, employees want to see how the company plans to make a difference in the space. Will they host a fundraiser, volunteer, or donate money? At Capitol Chevrolet-Cadillac of Salem, employees are provided with eight hours of paid time off to spend volunteering in the community. As part of Yark Subaru’s partnerships with local animal shelters, the company pays half the adoption fees for any animal adopted by an employee.

3. Employ a Casual Dress Code

When employees feel comfortable, they project those positive feelings onto customers. In the auto industry, a positive experience can help instill the confidence needed in potential buyers for what will be one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Allowing employees to dress casually on the sales floor is not only beneficial to their moods but also can help them be more productive. For example, if an employee must wear a suit and take customers outside in 90-degree days to show cars, the heat may cause them to show customers fewer cars than they would if they were comfortable enough to be outside for longer periods of time.

By taking into consideration the needs of today’s employees and altering the company environment in small but meaningful ways, employees will feel a deeper connection to your organization, resulting in increased loyalty and higher productivity.

Thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing their guidance on managing millennial employees. Learn more about Hireology and join NCM’s experts for more actionable advice on hiring the best people for your team in our Hiring Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plans.

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