You are here
Four ways to successfully inspire employee loyalty
Mention the Dragon Boat Festival and chances are, one word — apart from (rice) dumplings — comes to mind: loyalty.
Falling on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (June 9 this year), the festival celebrates the sacrifice made by top ancient China counsellor Qu Yuan, who threw himself into the river in anguish when the state of Chu, which he served for 40 years, was defeated in 278BC.
While Qu Yuan’s tale may be ancient legend, it highlighted his steadfast loyalty to his ruler and state. Fast forward several centuries later, the concept of loyalty — to a cause, ideal, or even institution — has taken on a very different meaning in today’s society.
READ MORE: 6 reasons why companies lose top talent
In the world of work, gone are the days when employees would stay in the same company for their entire career. In Hong Kong, for example, 67% of professionals surveyed in the 2016 Greater China Employee Intentions Report (GCN EIR), indicated they would likely or very likely change jobs in the next 12 months.
Such changing sentiments should be of concern to employers. High turnover rates often affect a company’s bottom line as engaged employees are 10 times less likely to take sick leave and are 85% more efficient at work, reported news agency Bloomberg BNA.
In this day and age, employers must pay more attention on retaining staff, especially their best performers, by making them feel engaged and valued. Failure to do so will hurt the business.
Here are four tips on how to successfully inspire employee loyalty:
1. Hire for fit
When there is a vacancy to fill, employers often face the challenge of hiring someone for the role quickly. In a bid to meet deadlines, some employers may sacrifice certain elements, like organisational fit, if a candidate is deemed to have the right technical skills.
But hiring for fit is crucial as an employee who does not resonate with the organisation’s values may fail to thrive. For instance, if teamwork is prized in the organisation, a person who is used to working independently might resist the new working style, impacting the overall group dynamics.
The hiring process can be tedious, but being selective from the start saves employers more time in the long run. Employees who fit well with the organisation tend to be more engaged, with retention being less of a challenge later on.
READ MORE: 5 ways you're killing employee engagement
2. Empower employees
Allow employees to connect with the work they do by entrusting them with important tasks and empowering them to make decisions. Such a move helps to cultivate a sense of belonging in employees, even raising productivity.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology observed that people who believed they were constantly being watched typically performed at lower levels, reported the Harvard Business Review.
READ MORE: Top tips for retaining staff
3. Understand what your employee needs
In Hong Kong, employers should ideally focus their retention strategies on three areas: flexible working hours (flexi-hours), a better remuneration package and dental benefits, as reported in the GCN EIR. Flexi-hours, in particular, should ideally be made a key focus as almost half (48%) of those polled said it would be a benefit they would like to see introduced.
However, before introducing such policies, companies should examine and analyse if these arrangements would be welcomed by their employees. For example, in the 2016 Michael Page Greater China Salary and Employment Outlook, a HR director observed that while flexi-hours had always been in place at her company, not all employees, especially those with small homes, have embraced the concept.
Designing any flexi-hour scheme must be accompanied with some degree of flexibility, pointed out the Boston College’s Center for Work and Family. Ongoing monitoring of the programmes, followed by changes and adaptations as soon as any issues are identified, are key to long-term success.
4. Take career progression seriously
In the GCN EIR, 55% of Hong Kong employees polled said “seeking a new challenge” was their top reason for a job change, while “no signs of career progression” came in second with 53%.
Often, engaged employees are those who are given opportunities to use and stretch their skills adequately. Talk to your employees about their career plan. Does their current role make full use of their strengths and abilities? Is their career moving in the direction they desire? Are there new or interesting projects they can work on to expand their skill set?
Discuss the training and development opportunities that can help them advance within the company. That should be followed or accompanied by clear and consistent feedback on how they can improve their performance.