It’s no surprise consumers are loyal to certain brands given the money and energy companies pour into building brand loyalty. But that loyalty doesn’t have to stop at products and services. Companies that want happy, productive employees who stick around for the long haul have to build loyalty within their own office walls.
Loyalty is an “important factor in recruitment and retention,” says Jessica Bigazzi Foster, global practice leader, executive development at RHR International. “Businesses that people believe in and are connected to tend to attract and keep better talent.”
Rewind a couple of years and companies could get away with not focusing on building loyalty. After all, the job market was extremely tight and many employees were happy to simply have a job. But times are a changing and now companies are fiercely competing for that sought after talent, which means they have to invest in creating that loyalty among their workers.
While there is no one size fits all answer, there are ways companies can easily breed loyalty. Here’s a look at five universal ways to do just that.
Step 1: Show you are loyal to your employees
There’s a reason the old adage “practice what your preach” has had such staying power. If a company wants their employees to be loyal then the executives from the low level manager all the way up to the CEO have to be loyal to their workers and show it in their daily actions. “Ask yourself am I loyal to my team. How do I show it,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing company, Robert Half. “Do I work as hard as they do? Am I alongside them shoulder to shoulder in the trenches during peak times and do I have their back during rough times?”
Step 2: Create a purpose for the company and shout it from the roof tops
Whether you make widgets or solar panels, people want to work for a company that has a purpose but unfortunately lots of companies fail to let employees even know who the target market is let alone what it believes in. “Building a loyal fan base (of employees) isn’t done by accident but very purposeful,” says Foster. That means companies that have employees who love to work there are sending the same message and sending it consistently. The message, she says, should include what is the company’s purpose or why we are coming to work every day and what is the company building toward. For companies that make heart valves, creating the purpose is easy since it’s all about saving lives. But Foster has seen a company that makes a tiny electronic part create its brand around how that part saves energy.
Step 3: Know what matters to your employees
For some employees a high salary will keep them loyal while for others it having the ability to spend time with their children. Others may want a clear career path and career development to go along with it. Whatever it is, Kim Brown, Randstad, Regional VP says companies have to figure out what they desire and if it’s within reason give it to them. “In our recent Randstad Engagement Study, employees stated that the top three most effective ways to keep employees engaged are: offering promotions or bonuses to high performing employees, providing a comfortable and stimulating work environment and encouraging employees to share their ideas and opinions,” says Brown.
Step 4: Treat employees as people first
Respect is a two way street and nothing can be more demoralizing than brow beating bosses who show little respect for the people that actually make the company money. A great way to boost morale and build loyalty, says McDonald is to treat employees as people first and employees second. “Employees need to feel the respect and empathy,” says McDonald. “It doesn’t take much time to ask them how they are doing regularly.” Asking is one thing but McDonald says the executives have to actually listen to the employee’ response. Another way to treat employees as people is to encourage them to stay home if they are sick or a family member is, he says.
Step 5: Be open to ideas and change
In order for a company to grow it has to embrace change and realize the business is a constant work in progress. Hand in hand with the every changing business environment, is giving employees the ability to make suggestions. It’s increasingly important, particularly for millennial workers who want to be able to weigh in and have a role in the direction of the enterprise. “Some of the best ideas in an organization come from the newest employees or the unexpected employees,” says McDonald. He says companies have to create a venue for employees to make suggestions and give feedback whether it’s a suggestion box or a day spent evaluating all the ideas employees have.