Why building employee loyalty is like dating

Take a good look adams kovacs 1960Turnover is very costly to business. It can cost a company up to 30% of the employee’s salary (and some say more) to replace someone. And in today’s labor market, there’s a lot of movement.

This is why companies should think about wooing their current employees—especially those who are high performing—more than they worry about wooing new talent.

you really mean a lot to me

At first it’s easy to conclude that employees are just following the money, that it’s natural for them to seek out new opportunities after a few years on the job, and that you can’t stop them. But if you could keep them longer, imagine the impact on your bottom line in terms of:

  • resources saved on having to train new employees
  • expertise on your business staying with you and not fleeing to competitors
  • increasing efficiencies by retaining an experienced team
  • attracting more employees who share the attributes of your star performers, because stars want to work with other stars

High performing, experienced employees mean a lot. Do you know why they are really leaving? Like any relationship, how can you keep them happy, longer?

this isn’t working

Compensation may be a compelling reason for employees to break up with you. But not always, and it’s never the only reason.

Reasons your employees may be shopping around for a new position:

  • there’s no passion for the company vision or purpose, or worse, the company isn’t communicating the vision
  • high turnover in management or a bad manager leaves the team in a constant state of flux and chaos
  • feedback is given only once a year, at the annual review, and it feels like an ambush
  • more is being asked of them, but nothing—not even praise or thanks—is given in return
  • ideas are submitted, but not heard or acknowledged
  • no clear path to advance

it’s not me, it’s you
In many a break up, the person leaving says, “it’s not you, it’s me,” to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation. But often, the reality is, it is you—something you’re doing or not doing that is important to that employee. Managers first need to have an understanding of what motivates their team and what the individual working styles are.

One C-level executive I talked to recently said that bosses are only surprised by employee departures when they aren’t paying attention. “They need to nourish and cultivate their team,” she said. Leaders who embrace the “servant leader” style find that they get more out of their teams because their focus is on helping their teams be more effective in their jobs.

show that you care
Reduce churn at your organization by keeping your employees’ needs and motivations in mind. Salary and perks are only part of the equation. Here are some other ways to make the relationship more meaningful and long lasting:

Have a “we” mentality.
Provide opportunities for employees to contribute and have ownership of projects and company initiatives. Let them be part of the big picture.

Say thank you—a lot.
It should be verbal and sometimes it should be in writing. Give credit when it’s due and thank employees. A gesture of gratitude demonstrates that you notice.

Share the purpose and vision; live the values.
The passion starts with you so it’s your job to communicate the vision clearly. Your business will be stronger if your team shares the same vision and values. If they don’t, it’s in your mutual best interest to break up.

Be clear about expectations.
You’re in business so it can’t be all fun and games, but make expectations crystal clear so that your team knows where they’re going and what they each need to do to get the company there.

Communication is two-way. Make sure you listen as much as you talk, or even listen more.

Invest in their growth.
Professional development is an investment in your employees that pays dividends to the company. Increasing their skills means they can be more effective on the job. It also gives them the tools they need to advance and a compelling reason to stay.

 If you want a better relationship with your employees, call Alex Reilly direct at 785.383.3689.

Stay tuned for another take on why employee loyalty is like dating: We’ll still be friends (breaking up with grace).

tags: brand loyalty, employee engagement, profit, ROI, training, leadership

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