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News   July 31, 2018   by Adam Malik

Survey raises credibility concerns for industry

Young automotive engineers – particularly women – lack trust in their employer, according to a recent study


Red flags are being raised about the level of trust and credibility companies have among young automotive engineers.

A recent study found that that only 33 per cent of U.S. Millennial automotive engineers see a strong match between how their employer portrays itself and what they experience as employees within the company. Only 18 per cent of female engineers said they have “a lot” of trust in their organization’s leadership.

The study, The Employer Brand Credibility Gap: Bridging the Divide, was done by Weber Shandwick, a marketing services firm, and research and strategy firm KRC Research. It noted that those numbers signal noteworthy issues as the talent pool in the automotive industry moves younger. In order to drive successful recruitment, retention and engagement from employees, companies need to create a trustworthy employer brand.

“In today’s highly competitive environment, it is imperative that companies develop an employer brand that is not only differentiated but authentic, one that reflects the actual day-to-day experiences of its employees,” said Kate Bullinger, global lead and executive vice president, employee engagement and change management at Weber Shandwick.

“This is especially critical in the automotive industry, where engineering talent is reaching retirement age and being replaced by Millennials and Generation Z who are looking for a very different value proposition from their employers than their predecessors. HR and Communications must work together closely to modify the employee experience to meet this population’s needs and then market that experience effectively to prospects and current employees alike.”

The report found that while companies could count on Baby Boomers to advocate for their employer, Millennials are a different story. Almost 80 per cent of Millennials have recommended their employer as a place to work – compare that to 92 per cent of Boomers. Weber Shandwick suggests that is part of a trend of negative employer feedback that exists with the younger workforce – Millennials are more than twice as likely to share criticism of their employer online than a Boomer.

“This is especially critical in the automotive industry, where engineering talent is reaching retirement age and being replaced by Millennials and Generation Z…”

— Kate Bullinger, Weber Shandwick.

“The fact that Millennial automotive engineers are more likely to speak negatively about their employers than Boomers in the same profession is something companies should be paying attention to,” said Bullinger. “We know Millennials are a socially savvy population with large online networks and what they say travels far, impacting employer reputation for better or worse. The root of this behaviour is disengagement which should be a signal to the industry that there’s a disconnect between what this population wants from their employers and what’s being delivered.”

There’s also a split between genders –18 per cent of women said they trust their organization’s leadership, while 37 percent of men say the same.

“This alarming trust deficit signals a serious issue for an industry facing an intensifying war for talent, particularly in an era where diversity and inclusion are top-of-mind for leaders and their boards,” a release from Weber Shandwick said.

The dangers of all of this? Damaging the pipeline of talent to the automotive industry.

“Our study reveals there is a significant gap in the expectations of automotive engineers and the reality of their everyday working life. These disconnects are underscored when considering Millennial and female engineers, who will be crucial to the future success of the industry,” said Janet Tabor, executive vice president, Weber Shandwick. “It is important that automotive employers not only consider their communications to external and internal audiences, but exude that culture through sustained, deliberate actions that employees experience at every point in their career journey.”