This article was originally published on The WorkForce Blog.
Today’s employee is fickle, flighty. Workforce loyalty is in short supply.
It’s not gone, of course. It just isn’t given out as readily as it once was. Now, more than ever, employers have to earn the loyalty of their people.
That said, if an employer has earned a worker’s loyalty, it’s that worker’s responsibility to respect and honor it—and, in turn, he or she will reap the benefits. As Denise Broady, WorkForce CMO, writes, “if there’s one thing that my journey has taught me, it’s to never, ever compromise loyalty.”
So how can organizations get to that point? How can employers earn a level of loyalty that binds people to them, like freckles on a forehead?
It’s an important question if you consider the consequences of fiercely loyal people, the benefits they can bring to an organization today, next week, and years down the line…
What benefits do loyal employees provide?
Loyal people aren’t always engaged—but they are usually. In other words, they’re usually invested in the success of their organization, which makes them more likely to:
- Complete short-term goals: Loyal people provide immediate business results.
- Achieve long-term goals: Loyal people stay longer, care deeper, and accomplish more.
Loyalists also help their organizations maintain a grounded, consistent culture. A culture that’s as stable as it is potent, leaving a strong impression on new workers.
Not sure what it takes to win over an employee, to earn their loyalty? Unfortunately, there’s no set formula, no “10-Step” guide. But there are several common denominators most loyalists share.
Let’s take a closer look at those:
1. Loyal employees are managed by competent people.
Managers are in place to lead. They’re also there to develop their people, to inspire them to be bold, to reach. Therefore, the relationship a worker has with his or her manager is a potent predictor of employee performance as well as longevity.
Great working relationships, mind you, are built on collaborative, competent partnerships: Both manager and employee must know what they’re doing to get along and produce great work.
Incompetent managers, then, are loyalty killers. For example, employees lose respect for managers who:
- Focus on operational functions while ignoring developmental duties.
- Don’t show a high-level of knowledge or skills in their area of responsibility.
- Can’t accept responsibility for mistakes, making excuses or passing the blame.
Loyalists, ultimately, trust their manager’s moral and technical judgment, their personal and professional integrity.
2. Loyal people are employed under mutually beneficial terms.
The easier an organization makes it for an employee to leave, the more likely that person is to stay.
This means that the more money and time an organization invests in an employee’s development, the less likely that person will be to take their talent elsewhere.
Confident, marketable employees rarely jump at sudden opportunities. They’re simply more grounded, more loyal.
How can employers make people feel more confident and marketable? A couple ways stand out:
- Pay people what they’re worth: If you don’t, someone else will.
- Develop, constantly and across the board: Worried that your investment in people will be wasted if they leave? Stop. Change your perspective. Realize that investing in people is the only way they’ll ever stay.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to an employee’s development? Just ask.
3. Loyal employees see a clear path up.
In addition to making employees better at their jobs, training and development opportunities help to illuminate new paths for growth within your organization. These paths are exciting, giving people something to work at and strive for. They give people hope.
As an employer, it’s important to vocalize these opportunities often and in earnest. Doing so keeps people emotionally bound to your organization—and the potential it offers.
Want to really capture someone’s attention, interest, and loyalty? Then cater their potential to their personal interests or skills. For example, in a perfect world, employees should have a couple choices:
- The “Technical” Route, which will give them the opportunity to develop their craft.
- The “Managerial” Route, which will give them a chance to develop other people.
Quick Tip: The more control you give people, the more satisfied, and loyal, they’ll be.
4. Loyal employees are trusted.
There are several effective ways to show employees that they’re trusted:
- Let people work from home: Working from home is not only convenient, it’s a compelling vote of confidence in their ability to autonomously produce results.
- Empower people to make business decisions: The more responsibility and accountability an employee has, the more invested he or she will feel in the business.
- Offer people flextime: This professional gesture makes work easier for people, which is rarely taken for granted.
These freedoms are potent expressions of confidence and trust. They also enable employees to live around work, rather than work around life. This powerful combination of empowerment and convenience, then, breeds loyalty.
At the end of the day …
Loyalty is a choice. It’s a decision only an employee can make and uphold.
The journey to that decision, however, is largely mapped out by the manager, the department, the organization as a whole.
To that end, last week, on the first Friday in March, many organizations celebrated Employee Appreciation Day. Did you?