Loyal following: Treat employees fairly and they'll stay, work hard
These employees were enthusiastic and motivated; they displayed a can-do attitude and were recognized by management for their willingness to help in times of crisis. It was certainly a pleasant encounter and perhaps a model example of a high performing workplace, in spite of operational and financial issues.
If I'd had time to dig deeper, I suspect I would have found a number of reasons why these employees are so loyal to their employer. Their reasons for staying would probably closely match that of current research on employee engagement and retention. Some of these reasons include the fact that people need to be treated fairly at work and experience a feeling of belonging and being cared about, rather than just being considered an employee number.
Loyal employees have a high degree of job satisfaction and know that they are valued and trusted. They have respectful and trusting relationships with their leaders, feel confident in speaking up and being heard and enjoy a work environment where honest, direct and effective communication is commonplace.
Organizations with long-term, loyal staff typically engage in a good deal of informal and formal recognition of employees through personal feedback, employee newsletters and various announcements and celebrations. Loyal employees know what is expected of them; they understand the goals and objectives of their employers and share the same values and vision. They feel proud to be part of their employer's image in the community and in fact, many gain their personal identity from being part of their work group.
Developing employee loyalty and focusing on long-term employee tenure or retention is going to be a key business focus for 2010. Organizations must work hard to ensure their employees have a sense of meaning and purpose in their job as well as opportunities to learn and grow. Employees feel a greater sense of personal satisfaction when they have some feeling of control over their work and when that occurs, employees are motivated to do their best.
With this in mind, organizations might want to take some time to re-evaluate their human resource policies and practices. Some of the key areas I believe need to be examined include the following:
Employee satisfaction survey -- When was the last time you actually assessed the satisfaction of your employees? Do you know what they need? Do you know how they feel about their job, their supervisors, their tools and resources? Do you know what makes them a loyal employee? Listening to what employees have to say should be a big part of your 2010 goals for HR.
Employee communication strategies -- What do you do to ensure employees understand their role and contribution to your success? When did you last hold an all-employee meeting to discuss your organizational future? How far behind are those editions of your employee newsletter? Take a moment to develop new goals and objectives for 2010 -- revive your communication.
Career development -- While many organizations do not have an extensive career ladder, encouraging employees to learn new skills and take on new and innovative projects, in my view, has equal value. This strategy can provide increased job satisfaction and create more flexibility for the employer. Adopt the philosophy that careers don't always mean moving up. Offer plenty of training opportunities and ensure that managers actually sit down with their employees and have career conversations.
Employee feedback strategies -- Too many organizations save all of their feedback for the formal performance-appraisal period. This is unfortunate because people and especially high-performing employees, need more frequent and meaningful feedback that is linked to day-to-day accomplishments. Train your managers to be more open and spontaneous with their feedback. Not only is this type of feedback more valuable and meaningful, it is much less costly than financial incentives.
SMART goal setting -- Believe it or not, setting goals both at the departmental and personal levels is one of the weakest areas of most managers and employees. While the strategic direction of an organization may be known, often individuals don't really understand how their role contributes to the overall success of the organization. Teach your employees how to write SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and develop a detailed work plan that will get them there. Job satisfaction will increase for employees when they can see tangible results.
Job design -- How long has it been since you reviewed the structure and design of each of your jobs? Are employees focused on doing the right things at the right time? Have any jobs grown too big for one person? Are the tasks well distributed throughout your organization or are some people overloaded? Undertaking a job evaluation process in 2010 will provide a review and restructuring that will last another 10 years.
Policy manual review -- With so many labour legislation changes over the past three to four years, a review and update of your policy manual is a good place to start in 2010. Employees need to know they are being treated fairly and that HR policies are being applied consistently throughout the organization. Be sure to train your managers on any changes or upgrades.
Workplace cultural review -- People who enjoy their jobs also typically enjoy the work environment or work culture. The work culture is made up of the values, beliefs and attitudes that create a set of unspoken rules on how people are to behave. Stop and take a look at employee complaints. Are there any trends? Are there any issues that need tending? If you fail to address cultural issues that arise, your employees will give up and leave.
Your organizational goal for 2010 should be to create a model work environment where potential candidates are knocking on your door and begging to join your team. The goal should be to create an environment that allows you the opportunity to outperform any of your competitors. This will happen when every employee is fully engaged, enthusiastic and performing at their best. Therefore, a must do for 2010 is to review your HR strategies, policies and practices and ensure they support employee high performance.
About the author
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.barbarabowes.com
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