Employee loyalty provides immeasurable value to an organization, yet many leaders struggle to earn it. Part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of the reciprocal nature of true loyalty.
Ask yourself honestly: are you as dedicated to your employees as you expect them to be to you or your organization? Are you as dedicated to them as you are to the bottom line?
If not, how can you expect them to reciprocate?
There are things nearly every employee appreciates and values. If you're not providing any of these things, it's hard to say you're truly dedicated to your employees.
Here's a quick list of ways you can get started on earning your teams loyalty. It's hardly exhaustive -- there are many more things you can do to earn employee loyalty, but these four are a great start:
This is a big one. In order to build employee loyalty, you need to start with trust and it's nearly impossible to build trust on a need-to-know basis.
Yes, there are some things it may be impossible or impractical to share, but a simple shift of perspective can help alter that impression of an opaque organization and backroom meetings. Consider this: instead of asking what pieces information can be shared with employees, ask what absolutely can't be shared, and why.
Transparency isn't only beneficial from an employee loyalty standpoint. With less barriers between them and valuable information, employees can work more efficiently.
Buffer is an excellent example of a company benefitting from organizational transparency. They write about it often on their blog.
Support Their Professional Development
Mastery is a crucial component of what drives people. Dan Pink's book Drive explains this point incredibly well. If you're a leader and haven't read it, you're missing out. Don't have time to read? Check out his TED Talk.
Investing in the education and development of your employees is one of the most sound business investments you can make. Not only will it provide you with a stronger team, it's a visible expression of your dedication to keeping them around.
It's unproductive to get caught in the negative feedback loop of "I can't pay for that. What happens if I pay for Chester to get that certification, and he jumps ship for a better offer?"
When your team knows you're genuinely dedicated to their success and their place in your organization, they're more likely to stick around. An unparalleled culture and work environment is often a more enticing offer than a salary bump anyway.
Provide Effective Employee Recognition
You need to show employees how much you value the work they're doing, and be genuine about it. Recognizing the contributions your employees make to the organization is a direct path toward inspiring their loyalty.
Many companies understand the need for this kind of interaction, but completely miss the mark, thinking annual bonuses or some kind of 'employee of the year' program is going to cover it. That's a half-hearted and lazy solution, and when have you ever gotten mammoth returns from that brand of effort?
Recognition is infinitely more impactful when it's frequent, specific, timely, and organic.
It's not enough to tell someone "you've been a great employee this year."
First of all, it's too generalized to make any kind of emotional impact, and secondly, what about everyone else? Are their contributions less valid? Recognize contributions, both large and small, and do it in the moment.
Personally recognizing the myriad contributions your team makes can pose a logistical challenge -- especially if you have a lot of employees, some of which you may not work closely with. Luckily there's a way to make that easier.
Peer-to-peer recognition provides impactful recognition at scale, and has the multiplicative effect of spreading loyalty amongst team members too.
Try not to take me too literally here -- It doesn't need to be food-related. Think of it in terms of sharing wealth and experiences with your team. There's no love for the people in the ivory tower.
It's not easy to be loyal to someone you rarely interact with; much less a faceless organization. Think about ways you can join your employees and share experiences with them. If it's physically impossible for you to do that, at least make sure you're providing ways for your team to break bread together.
Earning employee loyalty doesn't need to feel like a monumental task.
In fact, if you look at it that way, there's a much smaller chance you'll do the work to start building it.
Just pick one of these four examples to implement today, or come up with one of your own. The most important thing is to get started.
There are several tools available to help integrate these elements into your company culture. Bonusly is a peer-to-peer recognition and rewards platform that can cover all four. Want to know how that works? Try Bonusly on for free.