Earn­ing em­ployee loy­alty

Com­pa­nies face chal­lenges as younger work­ers have dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties than past gen­er­a­tions

Winnipeg Free Press - - CAREERS - BAR­BARA BOWES

O you have some­one that you would call a good friend? A loyal friend? How would you de­scribe this friend­ship? I am sure you’d tell me that your friend would stand by you no mat­ter what hap­pens. They would lis­ten when you feel sad, they would laugh at your corny jokes and they would cel­e­brate when you’ve suc­ceeded in meet­ing your goals. Fi­nally, that friend would quickly vol­un­teer their time and ef­fort when you needed sup­port for your spe­cial causes. In other words, you could count on that friend.

So, how would you de­scribe a good em­ployee? A loyal em­ployee? Is this some­one who has been with you for mul­ti­ple years and trudges through their daily work? Is this some­one who has a lot of ex­per­tise but rarely shares it for the ben­e­fit of their team? Or, is it some­one who has en­ergy and spark, that keener who dives into their work and looks for more?

Is this per­son the one who al­ways vol­un­teers for spe­cial projects while still get­ting their main work done on time and with qual­ity? Fi­nally, is a loyal em­ployee some­one who un­der­stands your mis­sion and will put all their ef­forts into con­tribut­ing their best to en­sur­ing cor­po­rate suc­cess?

In my mind, em­ployee loy­alty and em­ployee en­gage­ment are closely tied. These in­di­vid­u­als un­der­stand their value to an or­ga­ni­za­tion and put their all into their work.

Yet, the chal­lenge to­day is how to cre­ate this type of com­mit­ment from younger em­ploy­ees. This chal­lenge was re­cently iden­ti­fied in a study that showed loy­alty from mil­len­nial em­ploy­ees was closely tied to how an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s busi­ness pri­or­i­ties were tied to in­di­vid­ual per­sonal pri­or­i­ties. For in­stance, if a cor­po­ra­tion was seen to fo­cus solely on prof­itabil­ity, it would not in­spire loy­alty from mil­len­ni­als.

Par­tic­i­pants in a Deloitte study from ear­lier this year sug­gested that em­ploy­ers were out of step and were not pri­or­i­tiz­ing any is­sues that im­proved so­ci­ety and/or pro­tected the en­vi­ron­ment. While they rec­og­nized busi­nesses ex­ist to make profit and cre­ate jobs, 36 per cent of par­tic­i­pants said cor­po­ra­tions need to pay more at­ten­tion to de­vel­op­ing new ideas and in­no­va­tions, while 35 per cent in­di­cated that en­hanc­ing em­ployee liveli­hoods should also be given con­sid­er­a­tion. At the same time, 51 per cent of mil­len­ni­als and 63 per cent of Gen Z stated an in­ter­est in fi­nan­cial re­wards and ben­e­fits and an­other 52 and 57 per cent, re­spec­tively, pri­or­i­tized the work­place cul­ture as be­ing im­por­tant to gain­ing their loy­alty.

These sur­vey re­sults were a bit of a sur­prise to me es­pe­cially since I know that most cor­po­rate lead­ers have been track­ing these type of sta­tis­tics for some time and there’s been at least a 10-year push on im­prov­ing em­ploy­ment en­gage­ment.

In my mind, as with friend­ships, em­ployee loy­alty is more than just pay and ben­e­fits. It’s more about lead­er­ship. Lead­er­ship that in­stils con­fi­dence in fol­low­ers, lead­ers who are role mod­els, lead­ers who know how to mo­ti­vate oth­ers and lead­ers who help their em­ploy­ees achieve their own sense of suc­cess.

Keep­ing in mind that em­ployee loy­alty comes with time and ex­pe­ri­ence, the fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions might help to catch those mil­len­ni­als and

DGen Z em­ploy­ees early and help them stay with your or­ga­ni­za­tion. Share your vi­sion — post­ing a copy of your vi­sion and mis­sion state­ment in the em­ployee lunch­room sim­ply won’t be enough for em­ploy­ees to know, un­der­stand and share your vi­sion. Smaller or­ga­ni­za­tions can have reg­u­lar meet­ings while large or­ga­ni­za­tions need to count on man­age­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Be sure that the vi­sion is dis­cussed fre­quently and the in­di­vid­u­als see how their work fits in and con­trib­utes to or­ga­ni­za­tional suc­cess.

Be on top of your game — lead­ers who stim­u­late loy­alty are role mod­els who are also con­tin­u­ous learn­ers them­selves. They stay on top of in­dus­try is­sues and make changes and ad­just­ments in their or­ga­ni­za­tion to meet chang­ing needs. They take pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment se­ri­ously and en­gage in per­sonal train­ing and/or ex­ec­u­tive coach­ing on an on­go­ing ba­sis. They ap­pre­ci­ate cri­tique and en­cour­age feed­back. Lead­ers who are on top of their game in­spire loy­alty.

Be a cul­ture builder — lead­ers who are sen­si­tive to the chang­ing needs of their em­ploy­ees pay at­ten­tion to the kind of work­place cul­ture needed to at­tract and re­tain their em­ploy­ees. They keep their fin­ger on the pulse of their cul­ture and cre­ate ini­tia­tives that build team­work among the di­ver­si­fied ages within the work­place. Cul­ture builders seek out the voices of their em­ploy­ees.

Mea­sure sat­is­fac­tion — lead­ers who build loy­alty know that em­ployee en­gage­ment is not a one-time gig but rather re­quires on­go­ing fo­cus and at­ten­tion. Con­sider us­ing em­ployee sur­veys to iden­tify po­ten­tial is­sues. En­sure that is­sues are pri­or­i­tized and dealt with. There is noth­ing worse than ask­ing for em­ployee opin­ions and then fail­ing to give feed­back and/or do­ing some­thing to over­come the is­sues that were brought for­ward. Man­age­ment is al­ways on a pedestal as em­ploy­ees watch your ev­ery move.

Fo­cus on em­ployee de­vel­op­ment — train­ing your em­ploy­ees is an in­vest­ment rather than an ex­pense. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to im­prove them­selves and de­velop new skills that will en­hance job op­por­tu­ni­ties helps to cre­ate em­ployee loy­alty. This also cre­ates a fo­cus on build­ing in­ter­nal ca­pac­ity, which is of­ten more ef­fec­tive than re­ly­ing on ex­ter­nal re­sources and ex­ter­nal re­cruit­ment. Em­ploy­ees see and value your in­vest­ment and will lend their loy­alty to you.

Train for re­la­tion­ships — pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal train­ing and up­grad­ing is one thing, but help­ing em­ploy­ees de­velop the skills to build strong team re­la­tion­ships, com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively and re­solve dis­putes quickly adds pow­er­ful skills to your staffing com­ple­ment. Strong, pos­i­tive team­work re­la­tion­ships con­trib­ute to a pos­i­tive and har­mo­nious work en­vi­ron­ment, which in turn con­trib­utes to em­ployee en­gage­ment and job sat­is­fac­tion.

Fo­cus on in­ter­nal pro­mo­tions — ap­ply­ing a strat­egy of pro­mo­tion from within as the first choice of­ten leads to em­ployee loy­alty be­cause they see op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn, grow and stay with the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Also, keep in mind that your em­ploy­ees know the or­ga­ni­za­tion the best and that an ex­ter­nal can­di­date may take one to three years to be­come fully pro­duc­tive.

Pol­icy sup­port — keep your HR poli­cies up-to-date and be sure that em­ploy­ees know when and why a new pol­icy is be­ing im­ple­mented. En­sure em­ploy­ees are fully aware of in­ter­nal com­plaint mech­a­nisms should there be in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing. Re­view your poli­cies on re­ward and recog­ni­tion and ap­ply these on an an­nual ba­sis.

Or­ga­ni­za­tional loy­alty is hard to achieve when the ideals and goals of em­ploy­ees are not aligned with cor­po­rate goals. While this is chal­leng­ing in a work en­vi­ron­ment where em­ploy­ees range from baby boomers to Gen Z, con­cen­trated ef­forts must be made to en­gage em­ploy­ees and to meet their per­sonal needs. Loy­alty is earned.

TRI­BUNE ME­DIA

Em­ployee loy­alty is usu­ally about more than just pay and ben­e­fits; com­pany val­ues and lead­er­ship are also big fac­tors.

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