Kick Employee Burnout Out of Your Dealership: 10 Tips


“I quit!” is something few leaders ever want to hear, especially from top-performing staff members. Employee burnout is nothing new. It’s probably as old as work itself, but it’s gotten a lot of attention recently, thanks to a phenomenon many have dubbed “quiet quitting.” Rather than leave jobs that make them unhappy, many employees instead silently do less and less each day, with the end outcome being the same as them not showing up at all. As more and more employees evaporate in place rather than outright leave their jobs, leaders and managers who care about employee well-being have taken proactive steps to identify factors that contribute to employee unhappiness and underperformance. Every workplace is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee retention. But there are some steps that are good to take in any workplace, because they speak to what every worker – from the most seasoned to the freshest new face in the dealership – wants out of work. Here are 10 of the most tested.

  1. Work-life balance: Promote a healthy work-life balance. Avoid excessive overtime and ensure employees have ample time to relax and decompress. If you find that the same handful of people are putting in overtime regularly, it’s time to lighten the load and hire additional people. Encourage employees to take vacation and time off when needed. Do you have an employee who is using too little vacation? Protect their mental health and their productivity by encouraging them to take a break. And when your staff is on vacation, tell them to vacation like they mean it: and that means no checking emails and messages.
  2. Stress management: Stress at work doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to be, well, stressful. Any job done well and conscientiously will at times produce stress. It’s natural. People want to do good work, and staying on top of your performance can be harrowing, whether you’re a brain surgeon, an accountant, a schoolteacher, or a professional auto dealer. Provide resources to help employees deal with their stress. Eustress (so-called “beneficial stress” that inspires the best in us) is good. Distress is not.  Giving people opportunities to stretch their skills, and giving them a safe environment to do it in, creates positive pressure that conditions us to perform better. Maximize eustress and minimize distress. Open-door policies, where every employee can freely speak with their managers, set the tone from the top, while employee assistance programs (EAPs) can give your staff a confidential and supportive outlet. Some companies even have a chaplain! Chaplains are trained to help people of all faiths or of no faith. While chaplains have a background in pastoral care and faith, they can and often do help in an entirely secular way. The counseling profession actually came about as an offshoot of chaplaincy and pastoral care.
  3. Clear job roles: Just as the freedom to spread one’s wings and learn new things is a positive, taken the other way, too much responsibility can be a negative: especially when the responsibilities span multiple, different functions. Clearly defining roles and expectations can help prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about their responsibilities.
  4. Even clearer communication: Encourage open, respectful communication. Employees should feel comfortable discussing their workload, stress levels, and any concerns they might have with their superiors.
  5. Career development: Provide opportunities for career development. This can include continued training, courses, or conferences that allow employees to grow and feel invested in their career. Incorporating cross-training can also help ensure that your roster is always ready for anything.
  6. Recognition: Regularly acknowledge and appreciate employees’ hard work. Recognition can be a significant morale booster and can make employees feel valued and respected. Conversely, a lack of appreciation can drive people out of jobs they otherwise love and are good at.
  7. Respect and dignity: Create a positive, inclusive, and supportive work environment. This includes developing a culture that values collaboration, respect, and diversity. This is table stakes for any company in any industry that wants to retain good people and attract good people. Little will sour an employee’s experience more than a hostile or unwelcoming workplace.
  8. Ergonomic workspaces: Make sure the workspace is comfortable and well designed. Poor physical conditions, such as uncomfortable chairs or poor lighting, can add to stress and lead to burnout. For staff that are on their feet most of the day, ensure you have a comfortable, accommodating break area where they can sit and take a break.
  9. Fair compensation: Ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work. This includes not just salary, but also benefits and other perks. If employees feel that they are underpaid, they are more likely to leave – or to disappear in place.
  10. The right tech, tools, and processes: Dealerships have specific needs, so don’t equip your team with generic productivity tools that are “close enough.” At ATC, our titling and registration solution integrates with powerful dealer management systems (DMSes), such as CDK Global. And our solution on its own is a real boon to busy title clerks and finance staff – not to mention to the financial health of the dealership. By using our built-for-dealers solution, our customers don’t just multiply what their title clerks can do. They also benefit from immediately improved cashflow, since ATC processes titles in days rather than months. That puts the money from out-of-state sales in your dealership’s coffers sooner, opens up your capacity to move more inventory, and improves the health of your dealership in ways that go far beyond just titling services.

They’re worth it

Whether your employees are happy or unhappy, creating an environment that helps them be at their best without making them feel their worst is always sound. Of course, every job will have moments of burnout, but mindful leadership can prevent it from becoming widespread and normal. If you’re in a bad spot now, inertia is the enemy: Act now and transform your dealership. You don’t have to do everything at once. You don’t have to fix everything at once. But forward motion is the first and most important step.