View of an open two lane road in the woods

The COVID-19 pandemic, and each subsequent wave of variants, have profoundly challenged the auto dealership industry. And although these challenges have bred innovation, many dealerships have continued to struggle with keeping enough employees on staff to carry out basic functions. Employee turnover for dealerships was a problem prior to the pandemic, but since March of 2020, replacing the existing workforce has become more challenging due to the technical knowledge required by many positions and shifting demographics.

The term burnout has been used extensively during the pandemic. Going beyond the headlines, burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and can be broken down into three dimensions:

  • Exhaustion
  • Efficacy
  • Cynicism[1]

Although incredibly important, burnout goes beyond your employees' well-being and job satisfaction. It also has a profound impact on a dealership's bottom line as a leading indicator of employee turnover. Well before the pandemic, research demonstrated that burnout drives 20-50[2] percent of turnover within an organization – likely higher now given the current environment. The Society for Human Resources Management estimates that it costs a minimum of 50 percent of a departed employee's salary to replace them.[3] Broken down, if your dealership spends $352,000 replacing employees each year, 70,000 to 176,000 (or 20 – 50 percent) of that comes from burnout.

Estimated cost of burnout:

  Mid-Size Automotive Group Large Automotive Group
Employees 950 1,500
Turnover 46% 46%
Average Salary $63K ($31.5K) $63K ($31.5K)
Burnout Impact $2.7 M $4.3M

COVID-19 simply exacerbated existing challenges for dealership leaders. Studies indicate that the number of Americans reporting to be burned out has doubled in the last two years- from 23[4] to 55[5] percent. To effectively fight burnout and the bottom-line impact of turnover, it is critical that dealership leaders match the approaches and tactics employed with the unique mix of dimensions impacting the individual groups within the organization.

  • Exhaustion: Feelings of energy depletion or fatigue – the general feeling or perception of being tired or overworked.
  • Efficacy: A sense of insignificance or lack of accomplishment, like the energy spent on tasks doesn't matter or isn't appreciated.
  • Cynicism: Increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativity – the feeling that "things aren't great and won't get better."

It seems that these days, everyone has an answer for burnout, and each day brings a new idea. Leaders are left with deciding:

  • Which option is best for their organization,
  • Does each group within my organization need the same approach, and
  • Could something I choose make matters worse?

To identify which method will work best for your organization, you must first identify which dimensions of burnout are affecting your employees most. How? By asking them. Clari3ty/INTELLIGENCE is a data visualization approach that illuminates the distribution of burnout dimensions within your organization by deploying a validated survey diagnostic. This diagnostic, deployed over 20,000 times and translated into three different languages is scientifically designed to go beyond the feelings associated with burnout to help identify its root causes and the strategies that should push back its impact.

Identifying the causes of burnout is not enough to address the issue – you must ASK, ANALYZE and ACT in order to see results.

  • Ask for Feedback
  • Analyze the Feedback
  • Act on the Feedback

Once you understand the distribution of burnout dimensions across your organization, what we refer to as your unique character of burnout, you have the information you need to develop an equally unique strategic approach to target that distribution of dimensions.

For example, if through the deployment of Clari3ty/INTELLIGENCE you found your Service Technicians were primarily suffering from exhaustion with limited levels of cynicism and efficacy:

You Would:

Address with strategies that would help them prioritize their work and create dedicated recovery time in their workday.

You Would Not:

Address with strategies designed to show your appreciation.

While applying appreciation is an applicable strategy when efficacy is a driving dimension, when applied to exhaustion, it can drive people groups deeper into burnout – moving them closer to departure and its costly impacts.

Imagine meeting one of your service technicians who has worked overtime for the last four weeks straight and has just heard that another one of his colleagues has just given their notice. If greeted with appreciation and thanks for their hard work – this important team member will not leave energized. Imagine an alternate scenario where you recognize they are struggling and you know to highlight resources the organization has invested in to assist this individual with their near-term workload, and of plans to increase the size of the service department team in the long-term – each approach provides the technician the space they need to recover.

By proactively addressing the root causes of burnout, you can move upstream of turnover and address it before its costly operational, financial and strategic impacts materialize. Everyone has a different idea to share about burnout, and with all the noise surrounding it, even the most astute dealership leaders might wonder which direction will be most beneficial for their organization – and we know this uncertainty inevitably leads to inaction.

There is an easier way. By starting with the right data, dealership leaders can head upstream and fight burnout before it can impact their turnover.

[1]   Managing Burnout in the Workplace, 2013
[2]  Burnout is Sabotaging Employee Retention: Three Things You Must Know to Help, Forbes
[3]  The Cost of Replacing an Employee and the Role of Financial Wellness, SHRM
[4]  Two-Thirds of Workers Experienced Burnout This Year: How to Reverse the Trend in 2020, Forbes
[5]  Employee Exhaustion: The Hartford Study Finds Widening Gap in Burnout Rates of Women and Men; Burned-Out U.S. Workers More Likely to Seek New Jobs, The Hartford Newsroom

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