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Survey shows pay is still top staff motivator

Motivational experts claim that pay is not a leading factor when it comes to a happy and loyal work force.

However, two years ago, learning and development specialist RTS found evidence to the contrary when it surveyed the industry: pay was a crucial part of the mix.

RTS also found that staff turnover was around 23%, compared to a national average of 16%. It estimated the cost to the industry to be more than £150m per year.

Has much changed in the two years? RTS, in association with AM and the Institute of the Motor Industry, has just released the findings of its latest job survey.

More wide ranging than before, the research reveals crucial differences between managers’ perception of their people skills and the views of their staff.

It also reveals that pay and benefits remains a primary factor in motivating staff to remain in their current role. The response was the same from employees and managers.

In a competitive environment it isn’t always possible to pay more. Nor is it always possible to offer job security, which came third in the ranking for both groups.

So it’s worth noting that for team members, recognition of achievement ranks second. Praise and acknowledgement, which have little or no resource or cost implications, are powerful motivators.

Training and development is not a high priority, especially among managers, where it is ranked 10 out of 11.

The risk here is that many managers will not realise that training and development features higher in the rankings for team members (seventh out of 11) than it does for themselves.

Manufacturers and group boards may therefore need to consider how to market training and development more effectively if they want managers to make the connection between skills development and business improvement.

Recruitment v retention

It’s no surprise that cars are the main pull in attracting people to the automotive industry. Responses were often emotional, with both groups using the words “passion” and “love”. Typical comments included “mechanically minded”, “love seeing how things work”, “like fixing things,” “passionate about motorsport”, “I’m just a petrol head”.

When it came to the practicalities of applying for a job, the role and, particularly, the reputation of the company/franchise were ranked above all else, including career prospects and pay. “The big message here is the need to position and promote your brand to potential employees as strongly as you do to potential customers,” says RTS managing director Richard Wells. “The combination of both delivers business success.”

However, when it came to reasons for leaving a job, the critical factors were not the same. Poor management style of superiors was easily the top rank.

This corresponds with many research studies which suggest employees leave their managers rather than their jobs. The supporting comments suggest that it is less of a problem with the immediate line manager, than the top level of management, whose decisions don’t seem to make sense.

Wells says: “This may be as much about communication within the business as about senior management competence.”

#AM_ART_SPLIT# Expectation gaps

RTS asked two questions in 45 areas: What are the important aspects of your job for you? How satisfied are you with these aspects?

In a shocking 43 out of 45 topics, satisfaction levels were lower than importance levels. It’s a clear wake up call to managers that they must try harder to understand what motivates their people and then work to satisfy those needs. Failure to achieve reasonable employee satisfaction levels will see them lose their best people.

The largest expectation gaps for both managers and team members relate to the nature of their work and the way they are managed.

Wells said: “So does that mean pay isn’t important? Well not exactly – because for both groups, if holidays are taken out of the picture, pay ranks first as an expectation gap. Perhaps we love the industry so much that we don’t mind about holidays?”


Managers were asked additional questions to determine the extent to which retention issues were being tackled by the sector.

It was encouraging to see that despite turnover being a problem for more than 50% of companies, an increasing number are analysing staff turnover, carrying out exit interviews and employee satisfaction surveys. This is an encouraging improvement over the 2005 survey.

It was a worrying contradiction however, that while 49% of managers thought their people management skills were above average, team members ranked the way they were managed as their top expectation gap – a clear disconnect.

The differences between male and female managers were also explored. Holiday entitlement was more important to females. But interestingly, women generally reported much higher satisfaction levels.

And although they did not report being more stressed, they were less confident in their management skills and less satisfied with training and development opportunities.

Given the low number of female managers in the retail sector, this looks like a missed opportunity. n RTS received responses from 1,177 employees representing 26 franchised dealers and all retail job roles. If you would like to receive a soft copy of the full report, please visit the RTS website at, click on Contact Us and ask for “RYJ Report”.

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