I had an interesting conversation this weekend about employee loyalty. There was a concern about the effect of a lack of employee loyalty on businesses today. I replied that I was not worried about employee loyalty because I don’t think there is any reason that employees should be loyal to a business.
It is a business’ responsibility to make employment something that their employees want. The easier it is for employees to change jobs, change careers, or start businesses, the better. As more and more Fortune 500 companies lay off workers, demand more productivity while cutting wages, and in general show no appreciation for employees as assets, a revolution is taking place. Small and mid-sized businesses have been the driver of employment for some time. In that area, the balance of power in the ‘war for talent’ is turning to employees. More people are turning down the industrial-age proposition of trading ones values and ideals for economic benefit. These days, more people want both - and they deserve it.
While this presents challenges for all companies today (mine included), I am confident this is actually a good thing for any company that wants fast-growth. I’ve felt this for some time, and reading Fred Reichheld’s, The Ultimate Question, made me sure of it. According to the book, Bain & Company surveyed North American employees who had worked ten or more years for the same company. Here’s what they found:
- Only 39 percent trust their leaders to communicate openly and honestly
- Only 28 percent say their company values people and relationships above short-term profits
- Only 19 percent (less than 1 in 5) can be considered a ‘promoter’ of their company
Here are my thoughts:
- If this is how my people feel, I don’t want them, so it’s a good thing if they leave.
- I place the blame for the way employees feel on the employers. It is management’s job to make their people feel valued and, in turn, make their people value the customer.
Think about all of the money spent on marketing and sales -- all of the ‘customer outreach’ initiatives, loyalty programs, special offers, etc. How much money is spent to support making employees ‘raving fans’ of the employer? How much do you spend? How worthless is money spent on attracting customers only to have them end up face-to-face with employees who don’t feel valued?
Companies that create an environment where the employee wants to be a promoter for their employer will have an unbeatable advantage. Your employees are harder to satisfy than your customers. So if you can turn your employees into fans, you’re probably already doing everything it takes to make your customers big fans, too.