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The eldest of those identified as being part of the millennial generation turns 37 this year. That may be hard to believe, but it is true. It also means that millennials – those who were born between born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) – are now a major part of the workforce.

Attracting and retaining millennials is a primary concern for recruiters, HR managers, and executives of local, national and even international companies. Of course, automotive dealers are no exception.

“Dealership employee turnover among millennials is quite high and rising,” says Alysha Webb, editor of Automotive Buy Sell Report, an online news and resource center for dealers and buy sell professionals. “But they account for more than half of dealership hires. Dealerships need to work to understand what gives them job satisfaction.”

Millennials are a rather unique generation. Generally speaking — the generation of Uber, and many other examples of shared ownership models — millennials have eschewed attachments, and relish freedom. This makes it very hard to expect them to stick with any one job for very long. In fact, according to a recent Gallup workplace survey, millennials tend to “move freely from company to company, more so than any other generation.” In addition to being the generation most likely to switch jobs, the survey also found that six out of 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities, and that millennials are “the least engaged generation in the workplace.”

That kind of attitude, obviously leads to very high turnover, which is costing companies billions. That same Gallup survey found that turnover by millennial workers is costing the U.S. economy over $30 billion annually. While that high turnover rate is impacting all sorts of businesses, millennial turnover is particularly causing gray hairs among the HR departments in the auto industry. The 2016 NADA Dealership Workforce Study reported that the industry grappled with a 52% turnover rate among millennials — that is more than double the 21% reported by the Gallup survey.

How then does your automobile dealership attract and keep good people from the most job-hopping workforce in history?

Best Practices for Hiring and Retaining Millennial Employees

According to Webb, keeping millennials engaged and excited about their jobs and their workplaces is essential to not only attracting them, but to keeping them. From social media to smart phones, millennials are the most “connected” generation ever. As employees, they need to feel connected to more than just work. Any HR professional will tell you that it is easier and much more cost effective to keep a good employee happy once you have hired him or her, than it is to replace him or her. However, keeping millennials happy takes something more than the traditional perks. Instead, you need to create compensation opportunities and a culture that reflects the new values, attitudes, and lifestyles of the millennial generation.

According to the experts, one of the most important things to millennials in the workplace is flexibility and freedom. They also want to be challenged in their positions, and be given the opportunity as well as the trust and respect, to grow. In other words, as they now make up close to 40% of the workforce, they are a bit tired of being treated “like kids.”

What else makes up a millennial-friendly culture? Sharing and building communities is deeply rooted in millennial consciousness. Millennial workers need to feel like they are part of something more than just a job.

HR pros suggest that your dealership can accomplish that by using a collaborative business approach, such as dividing workers into teams, or work groups, and using collaborative tools that can provide telecommuting or other flexible hour opportunities. Furthermore, for millennials to be happy, you should create a culture where they are encouraged to share ideas or ask for advice.

It is also recommended that you leverage the particular experiences and skill sets of this generation — particularly the younger workers — such as by allowing them to contribute to the dealership’s social media strategy, create and maintain a YouTube channel, or giving them the responsibility of organizing a company event.

Millennials also want to feel they are contributing to some kind of a larger purpose. Research has shown that for the most part, millennials need very little encouragement to want to volunteer or participate in their company’s fundraisers or community outreach efforts. Knowing that your particular dealership is involved in such efforts to give back to the community, and that they have the opportunity to participate, is often the reason for a millennial to accept one job offer over another.

Breaking Stereotypes

There is no denying that there is a high degree of turnover among millennials, but the reasons are more complicated than merely painting an entire generation as a bunch of restless job-hoppers. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 50% of millennials actually want to climb to the highest levels possible within their given organizations. It is simply up to us, to give them the right reasons to stick around.

A lot of that has to do not only with all of the best practices mentioned above, but offering new hires more than just a job but a career path. Many automobile manufactures and dealerships are doing this by offering specialized training programs and continuing education opportunities geared toward career advancement. For example, Chrysler has a training program that offers employees opportunities to earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree at the Strayer University. Continuing education can be a key to retention of millennial workers, who make professional advancement a priority.

The bottom line is that millennials are now a big and growing part of the workforce – it is estimated that they will make up 75% of workers by 2025. If you want to recruit and keep the best of them, you have to give them reasons that are as unique as their generation.