By Sandy Blalock, ARA Executive Director
As the automotive recycling workplace continues to evolve and our businesses struggle to keep and find qualified employees we need to focus on planning for an unknown future. What is in store for us for 2022 and beyond, and how do we assure that we continue to attract and keep the talent we need to run our professional auto recycling businesses.
One of the top culture trends all businesses are seeing is that flexibility rules!
The reality is that companies must now offer more flexibility in the workplace. But flexibility applies to more than just where, or even when, employees work. It also means letting employees have a voice in deciding which type of work they do at home vs. in the office, where applicable. Obviously, our production staff cannot work from home so we will have to get creative in finding appealing options for them to provide choices in flexibility.
Moving forward, employees will expect increased flexibility in many aspects of their work lives and will change jobs, if necessary, to get it. When employees have flexibility in how they work, just about all outcomes improve and studies show a 77% higher likelihood of retention. Obviously, it is not feasible to have all remote workers, but even those on-site can have some flexibility such as hours worked, job sharing with others, shorter work weeks or even split days to accommodate family schedules, such as in a flexible starting time, or working four loaded days, and having Fridays off.
Three key areas that you might be able to incorporate flexibility into your staff’s schedule include:
1. Give employees a say in where and when they work. Set clear expectations of when and how they should be available. This ensures employees are reachable but also provides boundaries to prevent burnout. Give guidelines as to what work is best done on-site vs. at home, and why.
2. Provide opportunities for connection. In the office, create physical space and allow time to collaborate and interact socially. For remote employees, be sure to check in often and use tools to help people stay connected to their teams and the organization.
3. Have a solid strategy for remote and hybrid workers. It can be difficult for employees and leaders to identify growth opportunities from a distance. Ensure employees can practice new skills, work on special projects, and see their progress.
As the available talent pool continues to shrink, it puts additional power into the hands of job seekers as well as your current staff. I would say try to stay ahead of the curve and don’t wait for them to ask for higher pay. Recognize the talent you have and work diligently to keep them – you certainly do not want others vying for their in-demand skills and experience. Talented people in our industry deserve to be recognized for their specialized training and skills, and we should not have to be competing with the pay scale of fast food restaurants. If you are serious about keeping qualified employees do your due diligence and make sure they are on a pay scale comparable to their skill and experience level. Remember ARA and your state associations are great resources for training. Hope to see many of you at some of our state or regional shows and, of course, the 79th Annual ARA Convention & Expo, September 22-24th in Orlando.
Sandy Blalock is the Executive Director of the Automotive Recyclers