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Auto Body Employees: The Engaged vs. the Disengaged

Every time I hear about an employee leaving us, it hurts. I ask myself, “What did we do wrong?”

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Joe Carubba is owner, president and CEO of Carubba Collision Corp., a multi-shop operation in Western New York that has grown to four main offices, a dealer satellite office and six production facilities. He has worked in the auto body industry for 35 years, starting out with his father part-time in the 1970s sweeping floors and cleaning cars. He was named the BodyShop Business Executive of the Year in 2013. His philanthropic efforts have included Make-A-Wish, the Food Bank of WNY, and many others. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Every time I hear about an employee leaving us, it hurts. I ask myself, “What did we do wrong?” Did we hire someone for the job who didn’t possess a desire to fill the shoes of the position we were looking to fill in the first place? Was it the interviewer who didn’t do a good job when recommending the hire? Or did they leave us because they had a better pay or benefit offer from a competitor? Or was it because their supervisor didn’t communicate to them and motivate them on a regular basis? Maybe these are questions you’ve asked yourself from time to time as well.

Reasons for Leaving

I recently looked into the reasons why we sometimes lose employees, and here’s what I found out.

Every time we lose an employee, we have wasted time and money. The Center for American Progress estimates that it costs $30,000 or more to replace that person who has left. I think about the pay, benefits, unemployment tax, time we took to train them, paid certifications, reimbursed travel, licensing, etc. All a waste!

Sure, there are some employees who we’re glad to lose. You know, the 10 percent of your employees who are actively trying to damage the company’s culture, creating a toxic environment for everyone else. The ones who are there just for a paycheck and are totally disengaged and trying to get their coworker to join in their misery. I say we’re better off without them, but what about those who are engaged and contributing? How do we make sure we retain them? I believe it’s more than simply offering them more pay or benefits. An article I read in the American City Business Journal talked about a business’s culture and climate and suggested that the culture you’ve created makes all the difference in the world.

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For years, the Gallup organization has been administering the Q12 survey, which is used to measure the health of a workplace (see below). If you look at the list of questions, it may make you ask yourself why you’re not using this. They’re all great questions, but focus on the one that asks, “Do you have a best friend at work for now?” Gallup says it’s a vital indicator of great work groups. The interaction, respect and friendship of your teams will make or break your organization. People want to contribute and make a difference, but they cannot do either if they feel like they are not part of the team or don’t belong.

Culture

Every organization has a culture. Culture is like a thermostat; it sets the temperature of your business. It’s the intentional building of a preferred way of believing, thinking and behaving.

Every organization has a climate. Climate is like a thermometer. It measures the mood and feeling of an organization.

Ask yourself and your people if they can describe your culture. What is the driving force that governs the day-to-day operations of your business? Do your employees believe in the culture you’ve created? They need to believe in it and then get praised when they display actions that are aligned with it. It will set a positive mood and climate that will encourage teamwork. If your people feel like they’re part of the team, they won’t want to let the other team members down by leaving. Creating this type of culture and climate where people trust one another can not only save your business money but will save you a lot of time training and retraining new employees.

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Summary

People are our greatest asset, and culture is our greatest opportunity. My vision of culture is one team of aligned and engaged employees driving continuous improvement.

I suggest you spend more time with the engaged members of the team than the disengaged. Help them be successful with regard to continuous improvement and you’ll probably retain them when competitors come knocking. And maybe the disengaged ones will get on board once they see the successes.

Google “workplace culture” and you’ll see the topic has generated 1.9 billion hits. There’s no shortage of available lessons and documentation.


Gallup’s Q12

I know what is expected of me at work.

I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

There is someone at work who encourages my development.

At work, my opinions seem to count.

The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

I have a best friend at work.

In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

This last year, I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow.

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