Employee loyalty is not a given, it has to be earned

In a recent article, we asked you if you know how your employees feel. We also gave you some pointers to help you find the answer to that question. Building employee loyalty is the next step.

Employee loyalty requires trust

Employee loyalty lies at the crossroads of the employee’s investment in the organization and the organization’s investment in that employee. It’s a give and take on both sides.

As the growing interest in employee engagement and reducing employee turnover has pushed companies into collecting more data, analyzing employees’ moods and encouraging more feedback, on the other side of the equation, employees fear that they might be manipulated into working harder and longer. This distrust is fuelled by the lack of follow-up or correct use of the data gathered.

Finding out how they feel is not enough. Asking for feedback is not enough. Employee loyalty is fueled first and foremost by trust. And to win that trust, managers need to put the information collected to good use and prove that they too are invested in this employee engagement partnership.

Follow-up on the data you’ve collected

Now you know how they feel (Hppy Index)

You’ve started off by collecting relevant information and now you have an overview on how your team is feeling by tracking their moods. You also know the main reasons why employees are engaged, or, on the contrary, disengaged.

Real loyalty comes from trusting and respecting the company you work for. Managers are the key link between employee’s interests and the organization’s interests. They are the ones who can align the two interests and create an engaging work environment that fosters employee loyalty.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Set up a meeting to discuss the team’s Hppy Index and the main engagement drivers identified in your Analytics Dashboard.
  2. Ask the team to join in an open discussion on how the overall work environment is looking and how they’d like it to look in the future.
  3. Together with them, set up 3-5 actionable improvements for the next 2-3 months. Take responsibility for ensuring that they are carried out and set a follow-up meeting for that deadline.

You also know what they’re thinking

The beauty of an anonymous feedback system is that it offers honest information, whilst protecting employee’s privacy. You have a chance of winning their trust and long-term commitment. Firstly because you value their opinion and you actively request it, and, secondly, because you respect their privacy.

Anonymous feedback empowers employees and managers alike. It helps bring to light the really important issues, those that haven’t come up in a face-to-face discussion because of the mental blocks involved: fear, shame, position, experience etc.

Now, once you know where you need to act and you get constructive suggestions on how to address some of those issues, you need to act. This is the missing link that is responsible for the frequent distrust in employee engagement strategies. Companies rarely act on the information they receive.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Address every piece of relevant feedback. Commit to taking an action that will resolve it or Ask a meeting with the employee who suggested it to discuss further.
  2. Periodically remind people that you encourage their constructive feedback. Once they’ve come to recognize your involvement in addressing their suggestions, they will become more involved
  3. Ask questions to test multiple courses of action that can solve an issue. Get your team involved in following-up on the feedback you’ve received.
  4. Make a habit of encouraging your team to share new ideas and solutions to different problems.
  5. Little things matter more than you think. See what you can solve right now. There are always small things that can be tackled without requiring budgets or too much of your time. And they send a powerful message too, that you are interested in the details of their engagement, that you care.

It’s a lengthy process, like any trust-building effort, but it will be worth it. After 6 months-1 year you should be able to see these efforts in lower turnover rates, higher engagement, employee advocacy and, most importantly, employee loyalty. Because employee engagement and their loyalty is won by people not systems, nor tools.

Bottom-line

In order to build employee loyalty, you have to create and maintain a strong bond with employees. You need to develop their trust and confidence in the company’s objectives, by preserving a balance between individual and organizational goals.

Simply collecting data can’t be enough. If you stop there, you’ll fuel distrust and you’ll most likely experience high turnover rates. If employees trust you with information and feedback, you need to reward that trust through actions.

 

Image credit: Seattle Municipal Archives under C.C.2.0

 

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