Employee Loyalty Isn’t Dead Just Yet, But It Takes Work to Keep It Alive

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Mar 17, 2015

Did you know:

These are some sobering statistics.

How do we stop the above statistics from getting worse? Do we give employees everything they ask for, like a spoiled kid screaming for more? Is that the answer? We all know it’s not, but some Millennial experts do urge giving them what they want.

The reality is that the core desires of Millennials aren’t much different from what every great employee wants: Meaning and growth.

Thankfully, we have a bunch of smart people doing incredible research about employee engagement, loyalty, satisfaction and about every other factor that can tell us what really matters to us and our employees. And, it’s at our fingertips.

If you want to have incredibly loyal employees, here are five (5) key things that small businesses can do better than any big company out there:

1. Engage your people with purpose

When companies align their people with their purpose, people become engaged. No surprise there. Some 56 percent of employees say they prefer to work at a company that makes a positive impact on the world, even if they’re not being paid as much.

The surprise is that most companies don’t align their people to purpose very well. It’s rewarding to be an important part of the team, make a real difference and have influence. And because small-company dynamics allow management to have more interaction with employees, they can more easily reach and involve every single employee.

Frequent conversations about the big picture, purpose and goals help employees be more involved. And it’s something that must be felt, not just lip service. Purpose and loyalty go hand in hand.

2. Serve them

We’re big advocates and practitioners of servant leadership at BambooHR. We focus on employee growth and well-being first. We like to frame internal conversations around this.

The reward of doing this is as much monetary as cultural, and the culture benefit is, frankly, more rewarding. A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that investing in people rather than “capital improvements” will double the productivity of your people.

Serving them is investing in them — and yourself.

3. Appreciate them

Do recognition right! Show appreciation in the right way, at the right time, for the right things.

We don’t need big budgets to accomplish this — even a simple ‘thank you’ is meaningful. A whopping 78 percent of employees say recognition is a major motivator for them. When this is done right, the behavior ripples through the company and impacts everyone positively.

And everyone wants to be part of a team that appreciates their contribution, as well as respects and values them. People don’t want to leave a team like that because, sadly, it’s rare.

4. Get them the tools they need

Tripping over dollars chasing dimes? Small businesses are often tight with their dollars, and they should be. But that doesn’t mean foolishly withholding dollars for tools that help employees be more productive.

In a perfect world, employees know how their productivity directly impacts company goals, and they are given every tool necessary to help them contribute. For example, with their deep involvement in recruiting, staffing, compliance, benefits, comp and everything else, we often wonder why the most common HR tool is the spreadsheet, which definitely isn’t the most accurate or efficient.

5. Leaders who listen to them

Leaders will make or break a company, and that doesn’t always mean just managers and execs.

Regardless of the title, leaders require a special skill called listening. Listening isn’t simply hearing the words, but it’s understanding the feeling behind the words and acting on them when required.

A benefit of small businesses is that usually everyone has access to the CEO and other leaders. When employees have open-door access to the right people and they are heard, great employee engagement will result. It also creates a pattern of engagement within the culture, which increases employee loyalty.

Of course, none of the above are limited to just small businesses. Companies of any size can adopt these attributes and reap the rewards, both tangible and intangible.

But take note — these thing must be authentic to impact employee loyalty or it can have the reverse effect. It’s confusing why companies will spend millions on programs to increase loyalty, when the simple steps above are mostly free and can have the largest impact.

Small businesses need to genuinely care about their people and show it, and people will reciprocate.

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