Employee Loyalty? No, It’s Not Dead – It Just Changed Hands

Employee loyalty is one of those topics that can divide a room.

Well, at least room full of HR Pros who live and breathe recruiting, retention and productivity. Some argue loyalty is long dead, thanks to corporate actions begun in the 1970s and ’80s. Others believe loyalty is alive and well, but to fellow colleagues and managers, not to the organization per se.

Regardless of your position, employee loyalty can have a profound impact on organization culture and business results, not to mention individual employee engagement, performance and productivity.

It’s the interpersonal connection that is in jeopardy

This report out of Knowledge@Wharton is one of the best I’ve seen for hashing through the great majority of arguments around employee loyalty. In the article, James Harter, chief scientist, workplace management and well-being, for Gallup takes this position:

“Human nature, Harter adds, ‘doesn’t change when the economy changes. It might take on a different dynamic’ during a recession, but what remains constant is ‘the need to be connected — to a manager, a co-worker and/or a purpose, and also the need to be recognized… There is something about having a mentor, or someone in your life who helps you see the future in the midst of chaos, that can make a difference.’”

It’s that interpersonal connection that matters. And it’s that interpersonal connection that’s in jeopardy.

According to the Spring 2012 Globoforce Mood Tracker™ survey, recognition programs are on the rise. Yet, more than 50 percent would still leave their jobs for a company that clearly recognized employees for their efforts.

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Why you want to retain good workers

I’ll be leading an interactive webinar about the results of the latest Mood Tracker survey, including a discussion about why a strategic, frequent approach to recognition is essential to a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce.

Along with my colleague, Thad Peterson, we’ll reveal survey findings, including the top three benefits of recognition done right:

  • Higher retention: 89 percent.
  • Higher motivation levels: 82 percent.
  • Higher job satisfaction: 81 percent.

Why does getting this right matter? As the Knowledge@Wharton report reference above points out:

Perhaps the most compelling argument for trying to retain good workers is that replacing managerial and professional employees can cost approximately 150 percent of their annual salary, according to various estimates. Harter suggests that for frontline, lower end workers, it costs about half of their salaries, while for high-level IT professionals, the figure could be as high as 200 percent.”

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.