I recently had a conversation with a young professional friend of mine who was engaging in the first weeks of a job search. From her perspective, as a sales rep in the early stages of her career, she shared an interesting philosophy on career growth that really made me think about what we know about company loyalty:
“I’ve been told that moving jobs every two years is the best way to maximize financial growth over the course of your career—and so far, that’s been really true for me. It seems like the only way I can gain experience and increase my compensation is by looking for a new opportunity.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this sentiment, and I’m sure you’ve heard the same from peers and employees across the board. Still, as a CEO, the recurrence of this idea shocks me into questioning if company loyalty exists anymore.
And, the even bigger question: what can we do to encourage our employees to stay longer, enjoy their jobs, and grow with us in our own companies?
How to Increase Employee Loyalty
When you ask about employee loyalty, most corporate consultants will talk your ear off about increasing employee engagement, offering pie-in-the-sky perks, and catering your office to a Millennial audience. All of those things are great, but I’m proposing three simple and direct ways to increase employee loyalty that get straight to the heart of the issue:
1. Talk to Your Employees
It’s oh-so-clear that company loyalty means something completely different to employees than it does to employers.
New hires sign a contract and fulfill their part of the bargain with daily work, we respond with perks and compensation, and the deal is done. Unless we go above and beyond at some point in that process, they’re already prepped and ready to move on to greener pastures.
You need to talk to your employees. Ask them what they expect in regards to career growth, and keep in mind that most will expect to see movement in that direction within one year, two if you’re lucky. Check in every six months to evaluate how close they are to wanting a career move. Use this information to keep tabs on which employees you’re likely to lose—and if you’re not willing to cut loose a well trained and competent worker (and all the investment that goes with them), take their words into heavy consideration.
2. Know Which Benefits Really Matter
Let’s put things into perspective. According to a massive study of Millennials, 80% consider in-office perks last on their list of important benefits (far behind healthcare coverage, competitive compensation, and flexible schedules). What’s more staggering is that nearly 50% of employees say they “find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month.” Trendy perks sound enticing and may help you attract talent in the beginning stages of hiring, but compensation is clearly king.
When structuring your budgets this year, give serious consideration to whether or not your employee salaries are competitive. Cross check these numbers frequently because your competitors are eager to attract qualified employees for just a few extra bucks each month. Don’t make your employees ask for a raise—instead, make the goal posts crystal clear and award them with additional compensation when they earn it. These measures show you really care about making your employees feel valued, wanted, and respected. It’s that simple.
Pay well, pay often, and pay on time.
3. Improve Company Culture
My last suggestion is to give more attention to your company culture. Of all employee retention strategies, this one might be the difference between keeping employees for two years and keeping them for ten. When the other basics (career growth, benefits, and compensation) are in place, a fantastic company culture is something employees will rave about to their friends. They’ll review your company positively on Glassdoor, and they’ll pass your company’s job listings on to their friends on LinkedIn.
The big question here is, of course, how do you improve your company culture in a meaningful way? Here are a few ideas:
- Respect new hires by interviewing quickly and following up in a timely manner (less than one week is ideal).
- Encourage your managerial staff to give verbal and written recognition to star achievers on a regular basis.
- Consider getting your company involved in charitable initiatives and CSR programs.
- Enhance work-life balance by offering flexible telecommuting wherever possible.
Offer meaningful employee recognition and incentive programs that motivate your team toward greater success.
If you’re looking to increase employee loyalty at your company, make sure that you first aim to be loyal to your employees. Open the channels of conversation, offer benefits that matter most to them, and create a company culture they can be proud of. Together, these initiatives may be exactly what you need to get employees to stick around well past the two-year mark.
Looking for a way to get your employees excited to come to work every day? We offer industry-leading incentive programs that recognize and reward your best employees with products they love. Let’s talk.