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3 low-cost ways to help dealership employees reduce financial stress

Studies show that financial stress can heavily limit workplace productivity. Here are three ways dealers can help their employees.

Looking for a competitive edge amid an already insanely competitive automotive marketplace?  

Many employers lean towards lead generation and digital marketing as a solution.  

“If only we had more people walking through the front door….” 

What if I told you there was an 800-pound gorilla in the middle of your dealership, and you haven’t stopped to ask, “Why?” 

Underestimating the impact of financial stress on your employee’s performance could be the most significant oversight you make as a leader. Even more so in an industry that relies almost 100% on face-to-face interaction between employees and customers.  

If you think your employee’s stress isn’t impacting your customer experience and your company’s profits – think again.  

A study dubbed the “American Productivity Audit” conducted a yearlong survey of 29,000 working adults. The results were staggering. According to the Harvard Business Review,  underperformance due to poor mental health and personal distractions was estimated to cost U.S. businesses an estimated $150 billion dollars per year.    

That study was conducted in 2003.  

Pre-2008 Financial Crisis. Pre 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. Pre 2022 9.1% Inflation. Financial Stress runs rampant across all organizations.   

Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) has conducted an “Annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey” since 2012. In the recently published 2023 study, 57% of employees say finances are their top cause of stress.  

In the past year, financial stress has been shown to have the most impact on  

  • Sleep
  • Mental Health 
  • Self-Esteem  
  • Physical Health 
  • Relationships at home  

The Automotive Industry can’t hide in Zoom meetings. Customers can feel stress and unhappiness as soon as they walk inside. Their senses are both consciously and subconsciously in tune with the energy of your people. These feelings impact their decision-making. People are less likely to make large purchase decisions in an environment filled with negative energy. Problematic customers are more likely to surface. Finding ways to help your employees manage their stress is mission-critical for company success.  

Financial Stress is the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of your showroom. We must lure the beast into the back corner of the lot.  

If you want to grow revenue and increase profits, start maximizing the opportunities you already have walking through the front door by focusing on your employee’s mental health and well-being.  

Employers who help employees address their personal financial issues will increase loyalty and decrease turnover. Reduced financial stress will lead to better sleep with more energy to increase productivity while nurturing new and existing client relationships. Customers will experience the difference, creating a higher probability of success with each opportunity. 

And we haven’t spent any money on marketing.   

So how can employers help reduce their employee’s financial stress? 

As an individual who manages and helps companies implement workplace retirement plans, the plan’s existence alone is not enough to provide relief from more immediate financial challenges.  

Here are three Low-Cost Ways to help employees reduce financial stress and elevate performance.   

1. Highlight Company Benefits Already Available to your Employees 

Your company may already have fantastic employee benefits that few employees take advantage of or even know about—the blanket “benefits presentation” once a year during enrollment doesn’t always get the job done. Employees are more likely to use and appreciate a benefit when it is directly associated with their needs.   

For example, if your company offers group life insurance – hold a separate session to teach employees about different kinds of life insurance, how to determine the coverage they need, and how the available plan can help reduce their stress about a premature life event. A great place to start – The life insurance company offering your group life insurance. Think they’d like a free chance to talk in front of your employees?   

2. Encourage Employees To Use Their Allotted Time Off 

Taking time away from work is critical to achieving peak performance. Our minds require the opportunity to rest, recharge, and absorb new information. Any job, day-in and day-out, can cause even the best employees to resent their jobs. Leading to low job satisfaction, reduced motivation, and higher turnover. Even professional athletes paid to play the sport they’ve loved since childhood require breaks to achieve peak performance. Your employees are no different.  

Especially in the automotive industry, I’ve encountered too many companies that cannibalize the use of allotted time off. Causing employees to feel bad about taking a vacation or a few days to handle personal affairs. Or feeling like they will lose an opportunity for advancement because they took time off. Developing a culture of encouragement for employees to use their time off is a great way to build trust and positive energy in the building.  

3. Provide Resources for Personalized Advice About Finances   

Many companies rely on the 401(k) 1-800 number to provide financial advice to employees. Unfortunately, 401k plan providers are severely limited in their ability to provide personalized financial advice to employees. The service representatives aren’t licensed to give your employees financial advice. Not to mention, I’ve never spoken with anyone who woke up in the middle of the night thinking, “I really need to know what my contribution percentage is…”  

“Employees across generations say they would most trust an objective financial advisor not tied to financial products/company retirement plan.” - PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey 2023

Getting out of credit card debt. A spouse passing away unexpectedly. How to pay the mortgage and grocery bill. These issues leave your employees stressed out, sleep deprived, and distracted, leading to missed deals and poor customer service.   

There are dozens of companies today providing quality financial education to organizations. Smaller companies might consider a designated financial planner available to their employees. Some financial planners I’ve spoken with will conduct educational seminars for free in exchange for an opportunity to be in front of more individuals. If the planner understands your industry and employees’ most common issues – even better! 

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Rob Bacharach
Rob Bacharach
Rob Bacharach, CFP®, The Car Salesman’s Financial Advisor

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