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Santa to fix current candidate shortage?

Not exactly a "new" problem

The “current” candidate shortage seems to have been going on for at leat 20 years, but right now it seems to have reached a new height

The biggest challenges we seem to be facing in the retail automotive space are what I think of as “specialist roles”. Things like Technicians, Parts Interpreters, Service Advisors, Vehicle Sales Consultants etc.

I believe the first step towards dealing with this problem is to take ownership. By now we need to accept that no one else is going to fix this. Not the government, not “the industry”, not the manufacturers; this as they say is a “you problem” and the sooner you accept this the better.

Look for long term solutions

About 25 years ago we started to see the emergence of a trade shortage, especially in heavy vehicle technicians. Most employers attempted to solve this problem by paying more money to their competitors’ staff but this was never really going to be a solution.

One of my clients was quick to see the big picture and established their own in-house fast track apprenticeship program and actively recruited skilled workers from overseas.

This was not a magic bullet solution but over time the investment and risk certainly paid off and allowed them to operate their service business more easily than other who hoped the problem would go away.

So what can we learn from this?

  1. Control the things you can and try not to stress about those you can’t

  2. Do the little things that don’t always cost a lot but can make a big difference

Three easy and actionable things you can do

#1 Look after the people you already have

To me this is the easiest and most important step because finding a new anything (customer, team member, whatever) will almost always be more expensive than retaining the one you have.

So what can you do to look after existing employees?

  • Review their compensation

Especially if they’ve been there a while. It’s easy for both parties (employer and employee) to get complacent over time. The employer can unknowingly take advantage of the employee’s loyalty by not keeping their remuneration in line with current trends. This can lead to resentment when the long term loyal employee learns that new hires are being paid more.

  • Find out what makes them tick

Spend the time to understand each team member’s motivation, and where possible tailor some incentives accordingly. For instance if one person is motivated by time off rather than money, try to accommodate them.

#2 Present your “best self” to potential employees

Take the time to refine your unique employee value proposition and carefully craft the message to convey this effectively to potential job seekers.

Part of this requires using existing employees to validate the message and let would be team members know why they should want to work there. This is not hard to do but hardly anyone does it.

Tip - Create a couple of short videos with employees answering the question: “Why do you enjoy working at xxx?”

#3 Look for training solutions that will work in your organisation

Train new (and existing) employees to help them succeed. Again this seems like a no brainer but can be hard to implement especially in organisations where the senior management doesn’t support the concept.

As a business unit manager you need to be creative when it comes to training. Once upon a time “training” meant herding people into a room and have them die of boredom washing some “expert’s” powerpoint presentation. These days there’s plenty of self-paced online learning available that can still deliver excellent outcomes for the business.

Always be training your existing team to allow them to step up. That switched on your parts warehouse person should be aspiring to working on the phone or the back counter and his manager should be giving them opportunities to gain experience in these areas over time.

Apprentices are another excellent source of future talent; but I concede that it’s getting harder to find quality people interested in undertaking relatively low paying apprenticeships.

Need help with that?

If you need advice or assistance with any of these issues, don't hesitate to give me a call!


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