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Topic: Culture

4 Culture Trends for Automotive Companies for 2021

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Building great workplace cultures in automotive companies can be challenging, especially with the rapid pace of change in the modern workplace. Here are four of the hottest culture trends that will impact automotive organizations in 2021.

Update: The way we work shifted dramatically overnight. In Q1 of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Businesses and their employees are being forced to change how they work in some unprecedented ways. While most employees transitioned to remote work, many are left working on the front lines with new social distancing requirements. Confusion, anxiety, and fear are palpable. How will employees adapt to this change in work environment, process, and roles? How can companies help employees be calm, productive, and healthy?

O.C. Tanner pulse surveys show 40% of employees globally are worried about losing their job, while 60% worry about lost income. 65% of employees report feeling a “tense” work environment, and 46% of employees say they are less productive at work. There’s a 221% increase in fearfulness among employees, and a 135% increase in feeling isolated.

During a time of great uncertainty and change, many companies are struggling with how to take care of their people and keep their businesses operating.

What companies can do: In times of crisis, it is a company’s responsibility to help employees thrive. This includes many things: ensuring employees are safe at work, giving them access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, prioritizing employee wellbeing, and communicating honestly, accurately, and frequently. Organizations are taking the necessary steps: 92% of companies took appropriate actions to make sure their employees were safe at work. Video communication from senior leaders nearly doubled. The number of flexible leave policies increased 95%. Now is the time to make employees your most important asset. Take care of their needs, help them stay connected in a time of physical disconnection, and show appreciation for their work and efforts, especially those on the front line. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.

This means we need to understand how employees are feeling and what they want from work.  Here the 4 culture trends for 2021 (as they existed before the pandemic):

Culture Trend #1: Employees in the automotive industry are burning out.


39% of employees in the automotive industry say they feel burned out. It’s no surprise why—the work in this industry is quickly transforming with advances in automation. Workers must adapt and potentially gain new skills or risk losing their job. Automotive workers also feel the brunt of the impact of trade barriers and tariffs, which adds great confusion for everyone from workers in the assembly line to the salespeople at the dealership.

According to the 2020 O.C. Tanner Global Culture Report, 57% of employees in automotive organizations used to feel more optimistic about their career, and 27% say they’ve taken more days off lately to avoid work. And 69% say their job has a negative effect on their physical health—which is significantly higher than any of the other industries in our survey.

In addition to negatively impacting health, 35% of automotive workers also say their wellbeing has decreased. Automotive workers also encounter varied schedules. Some weeks may require 40 hours at work, while others may require an employee to work upwards of 65 hours. For factory workers, the working conditions may also be less than ideal, depending on the location. These conditions can cause stress which quickly leads to burnout.

What automotive companies can do: You may not have control over tariffs and trade barriers, but you can help your people manage their stress better. Focus on improving employees’ physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Create healthy work environments, so employees feel safe and can connect to their work. And, provide a meaningful purpose that inspires them.

At the BMW factory in Leipzig, Germany, the offices, meeting rooms, and public relations facilities are all built around elevated conveyors that carry cars through the production process. In this example, the workplace connects what every person does to the product.  Creating a connected, meaningful workplace culture can help mitigate and prevent employee burnout in even the most demanding environments.

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