At the average carwash with several full- and part-time employees, background and generational gaps are surely present among the staff. With a goal of making the carwash profitable and operating as a well-oiled machine, and putting potential employee differences aside, it is the job and responsibility of the manager to hire properly and keep everyone focused on primary objectives, which include performing at a high level, delivering quality results and providing the utmost in customer service.

Employee retention strategies and creating value in the job are key factors managers as well as owners must consider on a daily basis. In carwashing especially, providing consistent, quality wash results and delivering complete customer satisfaction are contingent on the employees you hire and ultimately retain.

The challenge for veteran managers is once they figure out the best ways to retain and provide job satisfaction to one generation of workers, the next generation — with an entirely new set of values, goals and mindsets — enter, and eventually dominate, the workforce.

Millennials for hire

Recent projections note millennials are on pace to make up half the workforce by 2020. But, according to an article published on pewresearch.org earlier this year citing population estimates released in April 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials have already surpassed baby boomers as the country’s largest living generation.

Millennials, whom the article defined as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million baby boomers (ages 51-69).

As a business manager, have you adequately researched this group of workers so you can effectively manage and retain essentially every other employee within the next five years? If you think being millennial-friendly in the workplace means having a cool company website, maintaining a presence on social media, offering a flexible schedule, having open dialogue about important business decisions and being mobile, you are partially correct.

“There are four generations in the workforce today: baby boomers, generation X, generation Y and millennials,” educates Stacy Feiner, PsyD, Business Psychologist & Executive Coach and author of the book, “Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength.” “Every generation evolves a unique culture from the one that precedes, relating mostly to forms of self-expression (music, fashion, etc.) and identification with a social cause, such as recycling, plus the impact of technology on the economy [and society].”

While baby boomers tend to work longer hours at the office, millennials never shut off. “[Also], boomers resent being micromanaged while millennials crave continuous feedback,” continues Dr. Feiner. “Boomers organize well around formal roles and hierarchies while millennials value a steady flow of information and a ready venue to exchange ideas.”

While embracing these trends is good for your business, some experts say managing the different generations comprised in the workforce today, including millennials, is not so different than in the past.

Related content: Managing millennials at work

Managing multiple generations   

While millennials do seek job opportunities that can satisfy their ability to stay connected, be social and multitask, experts believe getting to know the individual employee is the best way to create job satisfaction, and retention, in the long-term.

“Managers should adjust their leadership style for the people they lead with the stated purpose of increasing every employee’s level of engagement; engagement is tied to productivity,” says Dr. Feiner.

According to Dr. Feiner, managers can increase an employee’s level of engagement when they understand the four key drivers of employee engagement:

  • Having clear objectives
  • Having the tools to achieve those objectives
  • Having an ability to develop new skills and contribute in larger circles
  • Having a sense that they are valued and appreciated.

“When managers set out to increase employee engagement in these ways, they can more easily adapt their style in specific ways that improve productivity,” she says.

Common ground

For some carwashes, turnover is a real issue. And while a variety of components can attribute to turnover, sometimes internal factors, such as retaining and valuing the wrong people within your organization, play a crucial role.

“People leave their jobs first and foremost because of bad managers, and bad managers are usually the result of a distracted owner,” says Dr. Feiner. “No one wants the company to succeed more than the owner; so it is the owner who needs to build a strong and reliable bench of talent. The owner must invest in a talent management system to hire the best people, develop positive and productive employees, and allow top performers to move to other parts of the company even if there is a learning curve.”

Regardless of the generational and background differences of your staff, the good news is that most employees, especially new hires, all pretty much covet the same qualities in an employer; so make sure your company has the right answers to the following questions a prospective employee might ask, including: is the business successful and a place the employee can feel proud working at? Can the job fulfill the employee’s performance level and skillset requirements? Is the pay competitive, and are the business’ employees appreciated? And, is the work fulfilling and enjoyable to perform?

Providing answers to those questions and addressing any issues will help your carwash fill the gaps in hiring and retaining all quality employees.