Cultivating employee loyalty isn’t easy. It’s a long game, and often it’s hard to determine how to get to the next level. But it’s worth pursuing – employee loyalty is one of the most reliable levers you can pull on to generate strong and sustainable results in your business.
In this blog post, I share seven ways for leaders to inspire loyalty in their staff.
1. Share your vision regularly
Can everyone in your organization describe how what they do aligns with your business goals? If not, rest assured that answering this question is challenging for many leaders, and that there is a way to change this by establishing line-of-sight for your team.
Clear line-of-sight allows staff to see both the bigger and smaller pictures of the nature of your business. As employees begin to understand how everything fits together, they become more invested in maintaining and strengthening all areas of your business. In fact, a case study shows that motivating employees to help achieve strategic vision helped an engineering firm boost profitability from 16% to 21%.
How to use line-of-sight in your business:
- Communicate your organization’s goals. Share your business goals and align them with departments job roles and KPIs.
- Keep staff updated. Communicate changes, results and challenges with staff. This level of insight drives more engagement and inspires interaction as staff become interested in helping resolve challenges on the road to success.
2. Get to know your people
Forming bonds with staff is often a delicate topic, and one most leaders are cautious about approaching. Questions such as, “Where do I draw the line?” and, “Will I lose their respect if I show them I care?” are often raised.
According to Gallup, regular meetings with staff can increase employee engagement by up to three times, and this makes sense. Regularly interacting with your staff involves communication about the big and small of things, and where engagement exists, commitment is present – a sign of loyalty. But your meetings must be more strategic if you truly want to get to know your people.
A way to form meaningful bonds with your staff:
Make meetings about them. Yes, performance matters, but for performance to be realized staff need to be in the right frame of mind. Spend time understanding their drivers, hot buttons, interests, goals and ambitions, and what they feel their weaknesses are.
It will take time to develop relationships and make staff feel comfortable enough to open up, so your objective here is to be artful about the questions you ask and give them space to speak freely.
3. Encourage personal and professional development
Direction is hard to come by for many employees, and few take the leap and opt for personal and professional development due to lack of self-confidence. This is where leadership should step in and empower staff.
By promoting personal and professional development, you help staff benefit in two ways. First, they have a shot at experiencing actualization – a critical component of human needs psychology. Secondly, by empowering employees to grow, they become confident enough to contribute and innovate more, both of which are important ingredients for a business’s competitive advantage. In fact, Better Buys found that companies which offer professional development have a 34% higher retention rate than those that do not.
Three ways to promote personal and professional development in your business:
- Use one-on-one meetings to establish which areas staff are the most interested in growing and ensure that these areas align with business goals
- Provide access to assessments to determine employee aptitude
- Invest in educational resources and programs which offer staff part-time learning opportunities
4. Give them more responsibility
The argument for job enlargement is simple: by giving your staff more tasks and responsibility, you provide them with more challenge. But why is challenge necessary to start with?
Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly dominated by hardworking and competitive millennials, and they are eager to grow and achieve actualization by taking on more work.
But millennials are also driven by the need to align their values with a purpose they believe in, and as part of your organization, their willingness to take on more work is a good indicator that they believe in your business’s work and are loyal.
Three steps to give your staff more responsibility:
- Determine which of your responsibilities you can delegate and ensure that the staff who will perform the tasks are capable.
- Provide adequate training and insight into why a specific task is necessary and how it influences your role and the business at large.
- Promote an open-door policy to give staff the opportunity to feel less anxious about learning how to perform the new tasks.
5. Recognize and reward
It’s common knowledge that recognition drives performance and job satisfaction, but it’s often not practiced due to the fast-paced nature of business.
Effective recognition goes a little further than creating job satisfaction, it can also help you hold onto your best talent, even in the today’s web-driven talent hunt. Research shows that businesses with recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.
Three tips on how to structure your recognition initiatives:
- Establish what kind of rewards hold value for your staff
- Be transparent about the qualifying criteria and rules for receiving rewards
- Market your reward program aggressively to make sure your staff know that rewards are within reach and they only need to perform
6. Consistently create the right atmosphere
Work environments can be the best and worst places to spend your time, and it all depends on how inclusive and nurtured yours is. According to research by the RAND Corporation, management’s approach to how it tolerates behavior and enforces codes of conduct directly influences the work atmosphere.
Consistently upholding your company’s code of conduct, especially in challenging situations, shows staff that you value truth, honesty and doing the right thing.
How to promote an inclusive atmosphere in your workplace:
- Be swift. Should a public display of inappropriate behavior ensue, immediately address it in private. This way, the issue is addressed before it escalates or becomes viewed as acceptable by all staff. As you assess the situation, seek to understand what caused the behavior before you act. It is possible that the behavior is driven by external factors, even if it isn’t aligned with your business’s code of conduct. Understanding what led to the event will influence the actions you take and whether it will be punitive.
- Promote openness and courtesy. Use informal feedback sessions to make staff feel more at ease and able to share what they’re working on, and offer help where necessary.
- Resist the urge to have favorites. According to organizational behavior theory, staff develop what’s referred to as a ‘comparative other’, a peer who they constantly compare themselves to. By playing to favorites, you reinforce this concept and create a win-lose culture that begins to erode morale as soon as favorites get their way.
7. Encourage autonomy and creativity
The nature of workplace autonomy is often misunderstood by managers and staff. Contrary to popular belief, for autonomy to yield successful results, leaders must set clear guidelines within which staff can develop creative solutions, thereby shifting the focus from a process-driven to a solution-orientated approach to generating results.
As a leader, by encouraging autonomy and creativity in your staff you give them greater responsibility and show that you trust them to deliver – and this approach works. Research of 20,000 workers revealed that great amounts of autonomy led to a greater sense of job satisfaction.
How to encourage create an autonomy:
- Before you delegate projects, ensure that the staff your assign to the work can deliver results.
- Find the right balance in the way you manage the project. Too much autonomy can be overwhelming, especially for team members who have never received as much freedom before, while constant micromanaging can leave staff feeling less autonomous and more distrustful.
- Set clear expectations for results and when meetings will be held to assess progress.
Inspiring employee loyalty is an important ingredient for business growth. When present loyalty becomes the hidden fuel that drives employees to commit more and perform at higher levels.
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