Dealership employees want something better

This increased workforce mobility is a challenge for auto retail industry managers, nearly all of whom say they are concerned about headcount reductions.

Of the more than 300 managers at Canadian dealers surveyed as part of the 2023 Retail Payroll Survey, all but 3% said the loss of employees had hit their dealers. A majority cited the difficulty of finding a “suitable replacement,” loss of talent, and the time required to train new employees as their top concerns.

Overall, 45% of managers who responded said they had lost one or more direct reports in the last 12 months.

Two-thirds of managers said these losses were unavoidable, arguing that had they been able to provide additional pay and benefits they would likely have kept employees. About half of these managers said that simply giving a leaving employee a raise or bonus would help them stay in place. Other retention strategies focus on improving his work-life balance and his reputation within the company.

A more volatile outlook for the overall Canadian economy in 2023 could also help dealers adjust personnel policies to retain staff.

O’Rourke said there were signs that the “balance of power” was returning to employers as the recession and tighter labor market loomed. He pointed to the growing need for staff to return to the office more regularly and the beginning to dry up of new job postings as two examples of shifts.

In 2021, someone could have a job “standing on the street,” O’Rourke said. In the current situation, he said, it “takes a little more courage” for employees to leave their current positions.

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