The automotive industry is the only sector where at times, you literally need to reinvent the wheel. With the rise of electric and autonomous vehicles, the whole sector is evolving at an unprecedented pace. New technology unlocks the potential for new commercial models, changing the way cars are designed, manufactured, sold, and serviced—and impacting every business in the automotive ecosystem.
But despite all these changes, some things remain the same. Whether you’re an auto manufacturer, a dealership, a body shop, or any other business in the sector, you’re facing a challenging labor market where key skills are in short supply.
In this business climate, underestimating the importance of HR can be a dangerous trap—because without skilled, well-motivated employees, you can’t achieve your goals. That’s why getting your people management strategy right will pay huge dividends further down the line.
We often talk to our clients in the automotive sector to find out how they’re ensuring HR delivers value to the business. Here are some of the ways Paylocity is helping them manage their talent:
Get Onboarding On Point to Nurture Loyalty
High employee turnover is a constant problem for automotive companies, with one study reporting annual attrition rates as high as 46 percent. The prospect of higher commissions or better perks can tempt the best sales professionals away from your business and into your competitors’ hands. That’s bad news, not just because you lose talent, but also because it knocks down team morale. Plus, the cost of recruiting people of the same caliber can be extremely high.
That’s why it’s vital to ensure your employee experience is on point and nurtures loyalty. And the best place to start is when you are recruiting and onboarding new employees. You want new hires to feel part of the team and ready to contribute from day one. But if they’re stuck filling out paperwork, they get a bad first impression. That’s where Paylocity helps: our Recruiting and Onboarding modules provide a fully digital workflow that accelerates the process and eliminates friction.
Take dealership group Gurley Leep. They use Paylocity to onboard 300 new hires every year, with integrated welcome videos from leaders to help newcomers feel at home. Similarly, Stevens Creek Chrysler Jeep Dodge transformed their onboarding experience with Paylocity. Previously, new hires often had to drive several hours to see the HR team in person to fill out forms; now, it’s an intuitive, digital workflow they can complete remotely wherever they are.
It’s a similar story in automotive manufacturing. Injection molding specialist Team 1 Plastics achieved a fourfold reduction in onboarding times by replacing paperwork with Paylocity and created an easier process for welcoming onboard new technical and entry-level personnel.
Make Compensation Compelling to Maintain Motivation
Your compensation strategy plays a pivotal role in talent retention, too. You want your teams to focus on their core roles: selling cars, making repairs, and offering great customer service. If errors creep into paychecks, then people quickly lose trust and motivation, and start to look for a new employer.
But managing payroll is easier said than done for automotive firms. Stevens Creek is a classic example: they had to calculate complex pay plans for salespeople, mechanics, and service advisors, incorporating commission, hourly rates, 401k contributions, and California state requirements on overtime. Maintaining accuracy used to be a big challenge, with HR spending countless hours checking and correcting payroll.
Switching to Paylocity eased that pressure, as Darla Romey, their Director of HR, explains: “People used to be constantly looking at their pay. And now with Paylocity, it’s always accurate, so it’s taken that whole stress away. Paylocity makes it easier for us to keep good employees because they aren’t worried about being paid incorrectly, and it makes all the HR stuff easy so they can focus on doing their job.”
Connect Every Location in a Unified, Collaborative Culture
Automotive businesses typically stretch across multiple locations, and that can make it difficult to build a shared purpose and collaborative culture. Instead, individual sites operate as silos, where sales teams focus on selling, repair shops focus on repairs, and so on—rather than buying into the bigger picture. Paylocity’s Community helps to solve this disconnect, providing a platform for company-wide communications.
For example, Baxter Auto Group operates 20 dealerships and three body shops. In the past, they relied on notices stuck on bulletin boards and emails to communicate with people—and it just wasn’t working. With Paylocity, they send out important notices to all 2,000 employees and ensure everyone has received them.
Similarly, Gurley Leep has dealerships that span four states, and each one previously had its own private social media pages for internal communications. Using Paylocity, they built a more unified approach, enabling employees to connect directly with HR and each other across locations. Bobbi Imel, their Director of Human Resources, notes: “Our employees embrace Paylocity’s Community as the go-to source for communication.”
Empower Employees to Increase Engagement
Not everybody in the automotive sector has access to a desktop computer or email account. Sales professionals can spend much of their time on the forefront with potential customers, while mechanics are more likely to be in the inspection pit than behind a desk. This can make it more challenging for them to interact with HR—and it’s why a self-service strategy is so valuable.
Employees at both Stevens Creek and Team 1 Plastics use the Paylocity Mobile App and Employee Self Service module to clock in and out, rather than having to wait in line to punch timecards. And users can access their W-2 forms, change their direct deposit details, and view paychecks—at any time and from any location. That extra level of convenience helps increase employee engagement.
Deliver Insights that Drive Business Performance
There’s a perception in some automotive businesses that HR is just there to provide administrative support and doesn’t provide strategic value. However, our clients’ success demonstrates this is an outdated view and one that hinders business performance. With the right data, HR can provide updates on everything from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) to labor costs and retention.
That’s where our Insights & Recommendations module comes in. Baxter Auto Group uses our reporting tools to track gender and ethnicity breakdown and turnover at different locations. Furthermore, Team 1 Plastics now generates reports up to 99 percent faster than before. Rob Clothier, their HR Manager, explains: “HR is typically seen as a cost center rather than a source of real business value. We’re shifting that view with Paylocity and bringing much more to the table, such as data-driven insights for our decision makers.”
Support Ongoing Professional Development
Finally, as the automotive space keeps changing, your employees will need to develop new skills and competencies to ensure the business continues to prosper. Our Leaning Management System (LMS) enables you to plan and deliver customized training programs. Baxter Auto Group, for example, uses it to deliver specific automotive content and track the progress of learners, creating a culture of ongoing development.
The last word goes to Rob Clothier, who sums up the impact of Paylocity on HR at Team 1 Plastics: “We are diversifying as a company to keep pace with the changes in the automotive industry. With Paylocity on our side, I am in a much stronger position to support that journey and help build a successful future for Team 1 Plastics.”