Loyalty is still alive and not for sale. Loyalty, like trust, is easy to tear down and priceless to build up and maintain. True loyalty is never based on lavish perks or fear-driven and based on a threat that something will be taken away or replaced.
Employee loyalty is nurtured through creating a more human-centered workplace culture. Culture exists in every workplace whether it is by design or default. Gallup has shown us time and time again that an improved work culture increases employee engagement and productivity and aligns an employee’s goals with an employer’s mission. A strong culture isn’t just about fun and games and wacky perks. People want to be proud of the organization they work for. They want to feel a sense of achievement and deep fulfillment.
Culture is what guides employees when leaders are not around. It’s what you do when no one is looking. Loyal employees will uphold your brand and ensure the sustainability of your business. As Richard Branson famously said, “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Make your people your top priority.
People are attracted to organizations where they believe they can contribute and have a positive impact while simultaneously continuing to stretch and learn alongside the growth of the company. When leaders partner with their people to build a career plan that articulates goals both the company and the employee would like to achieve and hold regular meetings to nurture the conversations around strengths and improvements, it leads to employee commitment and loyalty.
Culture and engagement are business issues. In 2015, a study conducted by Deloitte cited that 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. The more you invest in people, the better the culture will be. Strong culture results in more people engaged. The equation is simple.
Here are seven strategies that will help employees feel valued and invested in and where both business and people flourish.
1. Screw the performance review.
Consistency is the key, not a one-off punch in the face at the end of the year. People like to receive feedback, be recognized when they get things right and know how they can improve to be the very best they can be. Strong communication creates a safety net where misunderstandings can be minimized and employee commitment and loyalty are celebrated.
2. Humanely wired to connect.
Every individual spends a significant amount of their lives at work. The digital world has exacerbated the “busy-ness” trap, resulting in relationships being neglected both in the workplace and at home.
Strong bonds in the workplace encourage a more positive work environment, support people to step into a thriving world and enhance the overall well-being of the company. Fostering team activities provides opportunities for relationships to develop strong collaborative bonds that lift each other up in times of celebration and in times of need.
In 2017, the Society for Human Resource Management’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report highlighted that employees who feel a sense of purpose and who feel valued in their role will always give more. Focusing on what you can bring to the team fosters your sense of purpose more than focusing on what the organization can do for you.
3. Plug in.
People contribute to the success of the entire business. Value is created by hungry, loyal and happy employees. A survey conducted by Korn Ferry found 33 percent of employees planned to look for a new job due to being bored and needing a new challenge. Leaders who are plugged into the organization listen with open ears and are present for improvement conversations.
4. It starts at the top.
ATB Financial, which has appeared repeatedly on the Achievers’ 50 Most Engaged Workplaces list, encourages employees to log on to Glassdoor and leave anonymous reviews of the company. Most organizations would see this as a risk of potential nasty reviews; however, Lorne Rubis, chief people officer at ATB, told The Financial Post, “Then we’d better get a hell of a lot better. I’d much rather know and have the courage, strength, and conviction to allow for the data to be free-flowing than to worry about what kind of governance we put on that.” Now, that’s courage in action.
5. When people leave, ask why. When they stay, ask why.
How many companies do you know that have an exit interview or a survey process and rarely execute it? What motivates an employee to leave will vary according to who is asked. Digging deep to unpack reasons, gaining an understanding of unspoken rules and capturing wisdom walking out the door is critical to demonstrate a genuine commitment to enriching the lives of your people. On the flip side, run a focus group on why people stay — what drives them, what inspires them and how do they keep themselves engaged in the workplace. Capture employee loyalty in real time.
6. Success leaves clues.
The annual list of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces is a great place to discover what other companies are doing to build employee loyalty. You’ll find companies dedicated to improving their culture by investing in the leadership teams and fostering an environment where people work hard, care about each other, innovate and have fun. By constantly seeking progress and moving toward an environment that nurtures people and business, employee loyalty increases, and business success is boosted.
7. Leaders cultivate leaders.
Accenture Strategy Study showed that the class of Gen Z, the so-called “digital natives,” crave the human element. Forty-two percent show a preference for in-person meetings and seek a supervisor who will mentor and coach them as a top priority. When you feel your input is trusted, people respond positively. Trust inspires people to rise above the line. When you invest in your people, they will rise to the occasion. When you don’t, they will also rise to the occasion. Investing in leadership skills early on benefits the workforce and the business at large.
Transparency, trust, and investment create a desire for people to strive for their goals and thrive within the company. Executives leading an environment where people experience a sense of belonging, purpose, commitment and achievement create a pathway where positive employee experiences are fostered and bonds to a company are strengthened.