Building Employee Loyalty in A Tight Job Market

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The latest Gallup report on the American Workplace details how more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or keeping an eye out for employment openings. I’ve personally always been a strong believer that for sustaining success, building loyalty with employees is the most important part of our business plans.

The reason I’ve been blessed with employee anniversaries that include 21 years and 26 years, among several others, relates to three key values:

#1: Pay well. Financial security can afford employees peace of mind to focus on quality work. Once I find the right employee for the team, I want that employee to do as well as possible to stay as long as possible. Often in small businesses each employee wears multiple hats, so paying a star employee well can offset hiring multiple lesser – and less loyal – employees. Additionally, think about the total compensation package. Health benefits, retirement plans, paid holidays, even memorable experiences can foster loyalty and motivate employees. As Bill Belichick says, everything matters.

#2: Share success. To me, sharing success takes two forms – financial and emotional. When possible, incentivise employees with profit sharing, stock grants, and performance-based bonuses to get everyone pulling in the same direction. Emotionally, sometimes success is finishing a challenging project or meeting a deadline. As a manager, I try hard to praise publicly, bring joy to the office, and leave room for silliness when appropriate. This attitude can be contagious, as staff members will often bring treats for the office when we hit a milestone. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way when the company faces a challenge.

#3: Family is always first. As a boss, I understand that most people work to live, they don’t live to work. Life is messy and unpredictable, and when family needs us we must act. When the unexpected happens for an employee, executives should always offer support. If there is ever an illness in the family, an important school activity for a child, make a point of communicating this time is important and the rest of the team can pull together to pick up the slack.

Employees are much more likely to be passionate about their work and exercise pride when they share a higher goal. The ultimate value is meaningful work, so work hard to communicate why your work is meaningful, and why your employees’ contributions matter. If you can’t articulate a clear ‘why’, go back to the drawing board and figure one out. I’ve seen how our employees are more productive, become great brand ambassadors, and have driven innovation as a result of their loyalty to the higher goal.