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Stopping the Exodus of Workers From our Shops

Autosphere » Collision » Stopping the Exodus of Workers From our Shops
Sylvain Séguin held a number of important roles in the industry before becoming President of Fix Network Canada. Photo Sylvain Séguin

Attracting new workers is all well and good, but it’s important to keep them.

We’re all aware of the labour shortage that is plaguing not only our industry, but all businesses offering automotive maintenance and repair services. Some workshops do better than others, and we need to learn from their practices.

What I find distressing, however, is that according to statistics presented at the most recent AIA Canada Conference in Toronto, 65% of these workers are deserting our workshops to go and work in other automotive fields, or in other sectors altogether, such as construction, which offers them better development prospects.

What’s more, younger workers are twice as likely to leave our workshops as our veterans. We’re trying to fill a barrel with a hole in it.

A matter of money

You can’t attract flies with vinegar, and it’s only natural that a young worker should be interested in the salary he’ll be offered before applying to a workshop.

For the workshop, setting the right remuneration is obviously a question of numbers. The manager must do his homework and establish the break-even point not only for his operations as a whole, but for each individual item. This approach is complemented by comparison and information from networks and colleagues, as long as it doesn’t escalate into a campaign of one-upmanship.

It’s also important to remember that salary isn’t the only factor in choosing an employer. A profit envelope adds value, as does flexibility in hours and vacations. This flexibility is crucial in the eyes of the new generation, and managers need to be prepared for it in their performance appraisals.

Getting ready

I’d also argue that a retention strategy should be put in place before you even start the hiring process. How will this new player fit into the team? Will he be accompanied or left to his own devices? Are his tasks clearly defined, as are the expectations placed on him? And above all, will he have access to a safe and welcoming workplace?

One of the reasons for the exodus of workers to other trades is their desire to develop. We need to anticipate and plan for this thirst to learn and progress in a career. As I always say, training is the key.

The key to getting the most out of your workers, the one that allows you to repair the latest technology cars, but also the one that allows workers, both new and long-serving, to see that we care about them and encourage their development.

We often talk about how important it is to improve the image of the automotive aftermarket in order to attract more young talent. This is true. But we also have to make this image shine from within, in our workshops.

 

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