DETROIT, June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — A new survey reveals that only 33 percent of U.S. Millennial automotive engineers – those who range in age from 20 to 36 – perceive a strong match between how their employer portrays itself and what they experience as employees at their companies. An even lower 18 percent of female engineers say they place “a lot” of trust in their organization’s leadership.
Both results highlight significant issues amid the rise of a changing pool of automotive talent. As these audiences increasingly represent the workforce, there is opportunity for companies and their leadership to create an authentic, trusted employer brand that will help drive recruitment, employee engagement and retention.
“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 & 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 research, The Employer Brand Credibility Gap: Bridging the Divide, was commissioned by global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research and is based on the online responses of 1,902 full-time employees across 19 markets worldwide. Within the scope of this global study, KRC sampled 213 U.S. automotive engineers, which formed the basis of this supplemental report, Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Auto Industry.
Millennial Auto Engineers Aren’t Necessarily Employer Advocates Like Their Predecessors
Millennial automotive engineers are less likely than Boomers (ages 53 to 65) to be advocates for their companies. Only 79 percent of Millennials have recommended their employer as a place to work, compared to 92 percent of Boomers, a significant difference that points to a growing trend of negative employer feedback that exists with this new workforce. In fact, the only actions that Millennials are more likely than Boomers to take are negative ones: posting or sharing criticism about their employer online (26 vs. 12 percent, respectively), discouraging potential customers (23 vs. 12 percent), and discouraging potential job candidates from considering their employer (22 vs. 16 percent).
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 behavior 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.”
Trust Severely Lacking Among Female Engineers
Millennials are not the only demographic exhibiting concerns about their companies. Only 18 percent of women surveyed say they trust their organization’s leadership, which is in stark contrast to 37 percent of men. 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.
Additionally, while female and male automotive engineers have similar levels of employee engagement (46 percent vs. 43 percent, respectively), they differ significantly on experiences that influence their overall engagement.
Perhaps most notably, two-thirds of women (66 percent) report they are putting in more effort than what is required to do their jobs, versus 52 percent of men. At the same time, women are less likely than their male colleagues to agree that they know their employer’s values, principles and beliefs (33 percent vs. 46 percent, respectively), that they would recommend their employer as a place to work (28 percent vs. 45 percent) and that they feel a strong connection to their employer (28 percent vs. 42 percent).
An Opportunity Emerges
The study reveals negative perceptions among Millennial and female automotive engineers that could affect the future pipeline of talent to the automotive industry. Around four in 10 U.S. automotive engineers overall (37 percent) report that what their employer portrays about itself publicly represents what it is really like to work there. We call this group “aligned employees” because their experience matches their employer’s brand. On a positive note, only one percent of all engineers surveyed strongly disagree that what their employer says about itself matches what it is like to work there. The largest segment falls in between. These are “marginally aligned” employees, and their employers and its leadership have the opportunity to change perceptions by better defining and living an employer brand that employees trust, ascribe to and promote.
The Value of a Strong Employer Brand
As outside pressures threaten long-established organizations such as those in the automotive industry, it is important for today’s companies to develop a credible employer brand built on an authentic narrative embodying the actual experience of its employees. This manifests in myriad ways, from how leadership represents the organization to career pathing, training opportunities and offering the ability to grow both professionally and personally. To find out more about the benefits of having alignment between an employer brand and employee experience, access our full report, Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Auto 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.”
To find out more about activating a successful employer brand specifically in the automotive industry, please access our full report, Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Auto Industry.
About the Research
In partnership with KRC Research, Weber Shandwick conducted a 20-minute online survey from June 18 to August 1, 2017 among a total of 1,902 employed adults, ages 20 to 65, who work at least 30 hours per week for a large organization (500 or more employees in the U.S. and 250 or more employees in all other countries). Employees were distributed across industries, professions and job levels. Self-employed and freelance employees were not included. Within the scope of this global study, a sample of 213 U.S. auto engineers was added. Auto engineer respondents were weighted to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on mechanical, industrial and electric engineers to ensure representativeness.
About Weber Shandwick
Weber Shandwick is a leading global communications and marketing services firm in 78 cities with a network extending to 128 cities around the world. The firm’s diverse team of strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work. Weber Shandwick was the only public relations agency included on the Advertising Age Agency A-list in 2014 and 2015 and the only PR firm designated an A-List Agency Standout in 2017 and 2018. Weber Shandwick was honored as PRWeek’s Global Agency of the Year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, The Holmes Report’s Global Agency of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and The Holmes Report’s Global Digital Agency of the Year in 2016. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, employee engagement, social impact, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit http://www.webershandwick.com.
About KRC Research
KRC Research is a global full-service nonpartisan opinion research and strategy firm. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, KRC Research has worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with multidisciplinary research professionals, KRC combines sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. For more information, visit www.krcresearch.com