The research is pretty clear. Employee loyalty has decreased dramatically over the past decades. Some people point at the Millenials as the problem. I actually see them as pointing to the solution.
In one recent study, among others, job satisfaction was linked directly to an increase in employee loyalty. (Job Satisfaction and Employee Loyalty: A study of Academicians, Rajput, Singhal, and Tiwari)
“The underlying factors of job satisfaction emerged from this study are career growth, motivation, work place environment and self- satisfaction. The underlying factors of employee loyalty emerged from this study are belongingness, job involvement, and organisational commitment.”
I hear these things from Millenial employees and the supervisors who work with them. It is important to recognize that members of other generations may complain about some things Millenials “want” I’ve never heard an employee of any age complain when the above factors are present for themselves.
Three Actions to Increase Employee Loyalty
Build a More Informal Culture
Many of us of a certain age have images of what a company culture should look like: Dress, Org. Charts, formal and informal norms, who is assigned the grunt work, etc. Employees today want less formality and more fluidity in structure, roles, and norms. Did you ever approach the CEO or owner of the business directly at your first job? Many of us can’t imagine having done that. Now employees–not just Millenials–see that as a natural interaction. REMEMBER: Informality does not mean lax. A more informal organization can have extremely high standards and expectations for performance, it’s just that the lines in roles and authority are a little more blurry.
Work-Life Balance is a “Thing”
This summer my 15-year-old son had a job at a local business. I believe he worked hard and did a good job while he was there. When I asked him why he wasn’t picking up more shifts, he stated clearly that he was trying to balance his time between work, summer workouts and hanging out with friends. As a parent who does the work I do, I was taken aback. He has a clearly stated sense of balance that I’m not sure I have even to this day. (I’m also not convinced that he shouldn’t have worked more.)
Our employees have that same need for balance. If we want them to be loyal to our companies, we need to understand and value that need. People are willing to work incredibly hard when their life outside of work is acknowledged and supported by their employer. REMEMBER: Work-Life balance does not mean giving in to every request for time away from work or never expecting an employee to stay late.
Give (and take) Feedback
Employees today want more feedback, not less. This does not apply to every single employee, nothing does, but generally, workers want to know when they are doing well and when they need to improve. I wrote another blog post on the ratio of positive feedback to critical feedback that is ideal. If you never offer constructive criticism, the positive feels less sincere.
The other side of the coin is that employees expect to be able to give their supervisors feedback too. Practice your skills at receiving feedback and be prepared to receive it directly from employees you supervise. If you take their words seriously, you will increase loyalty, and possibly your performance. REMEMBER: Creating a culture of feedback is not the same as tolerating excessive criticism of employees or supervisors.
The labor market is tight. Recruiting, hiring and training employees is expensive. Increasing employee loyalty is time well spent.
Jerritt Johnston is the Owner of True North Consultants, which promotes organizational, individual and team growth through challenging, fun and relevant activities and processes. True North is an Authorized Partner for Everything DiSC®and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™.