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Employee Management

The Pandemic and Employees: A New Shift?

A new employee attitude caused by COVID makes me wonder if it will permeate all industries.

Sean Donohue joined Babcox Media in early 2008. Prior to this, he worked in sales and marketing for the Akron Beacon Journal. Over the last decade, Donohue has served in a variety of sales roles, most recently Vice President of Sales and Publisher of BodyShop Business. Other roles have included Group Publisher of TechShop, Motorcycle & Powersports News, AutoSuccess, Professional Carwashing & Detailing and Engine Builder brands. Sean is a graduate of Kent State University.

I’ve been reading lots of articles lately on how the pandemic has changed workers. The increased time at home with family has made them reexamine their priorities. The flexibility inherent in “working from home” is something they now still want even as they’re being called back into the office. As a result, some are quitting their old jobs and getting new ones. Some are even completely switching careers. They’re putting their foot down after years of “corporate profit taking” and stagnant wages; it’s as if the pandemic empowered employees and put the shoe on the other foot.

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Of course, collision technicians did not have the luxury of working from home during COVID. They dutifully reported to the shop the entire time (or when needed, as some were furloughed when repair jobs declined significantly) to carry on an industry deemed “essential.”

But this new employee attitude makes me wonder if it will permeate all industries. Will it be infectious? Will employee demands become greater: pay, benefits, time off, flexible hours? The collision industry is already dealing with a tech shortage, will it become even harder to find qualified technicians? Or will it be status quo because the collision industry worked through the pandemic as if nothing had changed and no one ever really had the chance to reflect on whether they wanted to switch careers? In a survey we conducted in July 2020, only 13% of body shop owners said not everyone decided to come back after they furloughed and recalled them.

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We’re in for a good year as miles driven is expected to rebound mightily. Hopefully you’re taking enough care of your employees that they’ll believe that continuing their collision career is a good choice.

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