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Creative Onboarding Tips to Promote Employee Engagement at Your Dealership

As the economy ramps up, businesses across all industries are looking to hire — fast. Chances are, your dealership is one of them. And given the current talent shortage, you know that it’s harder than ever to attract top talent and quickly fill your open roles. So when you do hire someone you’re excited about, it’s all the more essential to make sure they stick around.

One of the easiest things you can do to keep your new employees happy at your dealership long-term is to provide an exceptional onboarding program. One study found that 69% of employees who underwent effective onboarding remained at the company for three years. Simply put, if you show your new employees that you value them from day one, they’ll want to keep working for you.

The key to an effective onboarding program is engagement. Onboarding should never be a one-way conversation where someone from HR gives a tour, asks the new employee to fill out some paperwork, and then leaves them to figure out the ropes alone. It should be a memorable and interactive experience that sets the tone for what it’s like to work at your dealership long-term. It should get your new employees excited and ready to start contributing.

Now, we know you’re busy and it takes time to get something like this right — time you could be spent doing other things like recruiting your next hire or making a sale. But the efforts you invest in planning for this now will pay off big time, especially as we quickly approach pre-pandemic levels of unemployment. Here are five creative onboarding tips to promote employee engagement at your dealership:

Eliminate the paperwork

Your employee’s first week should never be spent doing paperwork. This is the time you set aside for them to get comfortable and feel confident about their new role. They should learn about the organization’s values, form relationships with the team, and complete the training necessary for them to do their jobs well. Tasks like filling out tax forms and enrolling in benefits can be completed digitally before the employee even shows up for their first day. 

Define a consistent and structured program

First impressions matter. And if you’ve put little to no thought into the content and structure of your onboarding program, your employee will likely have a sour first impression of your dealership. Take time to clearly define the structure of the program so that it’s smooth and makes your new hire feel like you really care about their experience. Your program should also be the same for all roles — from sales associates to technicians — leaving no room for inconsistency from new hire to new hire. 

Offer more than just orientation

Great onboarding is much more than just an introduction to the dealership’s history. While it’s certainly important for new folks to understand the basics of your organization, they also need to be set up to succeed in the role you hired them for. For example, if their role requires them to use a digital marketing tool, make sure they get that training during onboarding. That way, when they’re done with onboarding they feel supported and prepared to meaningfully contribute right away.

Make it a celebration

Starting a new job is a big life milestone. Your onboarding program should reflect that. Give your new hires gifts like branded t-shirts and water bottles to welcome them to the team and show that you’re excited about their first day. Also, schedule a lunch or casual meeting strictly to celebrate your new hire and get to know their hobbies, family life, and other interests. Little things like this go a long way in making new hires feel like your company is the place for them long-term.

Provide mentorship opportunities

Even the best onboarding programs end. And no matter how well you set your new hires up for success, you risk losing that connection you formed with them at the company level as they dig into their role. A mentorship program — where you pair the employee with someone outside of their immediate team — gives new hires a reason to stay connected to the broader organization. Plus it gives them someone to go to for support and guidance who isn’t their direct supervisor.

Of course no onboarding program is perfect from day one. Give your new hires a chance to provide feedback a few weeks or a month after their start date. Take their feedback seriously and continuously optimize and improve on your program over time. 

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