Career Insider

7 strategies for building employee loyalty

Workers are less likely to stay in jobs for a long time, but that perceived lack of loyalty cuts both ways—employers should also show loyalty to the worker.
By Sandra Wiley

Loyalty is a dying characteristic in many organizations, on the employer side and on the employee side. At least that was the consensus during a recent conversation with friends from numerous professions. 

The issue of lost loyalty comes up often. The perception is that, in the past, people stayed with organizations because they were treated well by the employer. In return, they would stay and build their careers there. If they stayed long enough, they would receive the gold watch as a reward for many years of service. 

Staying to get the gold watch, pension, or just the pat on the back and the smile from the boss is no longer a factor for most workers. The average worker today has nine different employers in a career. 

Before we condemn the workers, we have to consider another option: That employers killed firm loyalty. When the economy slows or profitability suffers, a reduction in staff is sometimes the first response. When health insurance premiums go up, the cost is often passed on to employees. 

Cutting costs might make good business sense, but those actions don’t inspire employees to make a long-term commitment. They won’t want to commit to an employer that offers little job security, little opportunity for advancement, and small pay increases. 

Not every employer has this problem. The organizations that take care of their employees find that their employees take care of them. It also helps with recruiting, and finding and attracting talent has been one of the top struggles for many companies lately. 

Netflix recently said it would offer maternity and paternity leave for up to one year after the birth or adoption of a child. The next day, Microsoft announced it had extended the paid leave times for new parents. And other companies, not just in the tech world, have beefed up benefits as a way to hold on to valuable workers.

Employers who do not take care of their employees have to face the consequences.

Beyond flashy perks and novel benefits, how can an organization show employees care that ultimately converts to loyalty? Consider the following:

  1. Sincerely thank employees for their contributions. When was the last time you actually told a staff member that you appreciated his or her hard work? This needs to be sincere; employees will see a fake a mile away.
  2. Give the employee more than is expected. Anticipate a need and fill it. Answer a question before it is asked. Delivering more than workers expect is a powerful way to gain employee loyalty.
  3. Listen. Take time to truly listen to what your employees say; if they don’t volunteer information or feedback, ask for it. 
  4. Make realistic promises—and be consistent. It is far better to promise something in a week and deliver in three days than the other way around. 
  5. Share information. Send pertinent articles or information that may be valuable or simply interesting to an employee or group of employees. Always look for ways to help individuals learn. Your actions will speak volumes to your team. Consider that learning is not just reading, it is sharing stories and taking them on engagements with you. 
  6. Explain how things work. Share your expertise with others. Explain how business development works, how the organization runs financially, how metrics are tracked, and how they help the organization make bottom-line decisions.
  7. Have fun. Enjoy your employees, develop relationships, and look upon them as your extended family. On occasion, treat your team to something fun to show your appreciation. Use your imagination. Remember, a little goes a long way. Any effort will be appreciated and remembered.
Sandra Wiley

Sandra Wiley is the COO of Boomer Consulting in Manhattan, Kan., and is a speaker on topics such as team building, talent development, and performance improvement.

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