Loyal Employees Vital to Success of Any Business

For J&COlga Voroshilova, Partner, Cornerstone

In everyday life, we can tell intuitively whether someone we're talking to feels loyalty toward us or whether we can trust a new acquaintance. However, intuition is not a good indicator in the workplace, where it doesn't hurt to take extra caution. For employers, it's important to ask: What is a loyal employee, why are such employees valuable and how can we motivate them?

Employee loyalty includes dedication to the company's goals, adherence to its principles and a feeling of pride in the company (probably the most important quality).

Loyal employees are the gold reserves of any company and the ones responsible for a business's success. They're the ones who can catapult a company into the ranks of industry leaders. They're  disciplined and responsible, and they achieve the best results in their work. Loyal employees trust top management, and they never go against their employer's best interests.

Of course, during the interview phase, it's difficult to know whether a future employee will be loyal to the company. At this stage, we look at the candidate's work experience, his skills, professionalism and business acumen. But when the team has been formed, it's important to pay special attention to raising the loyalty of the entire group.

Employees should work in comfortable conditions, know exactly what is required of them and receive fair compensation for their work. The company's system of professional growth and material incentives should be transparent and understood by everyone. These are employees' basic needs, the first level of a pyramid similar to Maslow's hierarchy of human needs.

Once the employees' basic needs have been met, the next level addresses the team's emotional well-being, which starts with colleagues' respect for one another and their ability to listen. It's very important for your employees to know that you are concerned about them. To this end, workers should receive recognition and speedy help from top management when they show initiative in something.

The most important objective that any business with high ambitions should strive for is shared goals: The staff should share the goals of the company, see and participate in its successes, understand its prospects and feel like a part of a common cause.

If your financial results are good, you can pay your employees decent wages, but at the same time, workers can feel like they're only a "machine for making money." You'd be surprised how often we hear this from our candidates who have decided to change jobs.

Establishing devotion to the company means that your employees will feel pride that they are affiliated with your business. They will consider it the best among its peers and will, without even thinking about it, recommend its products and services to their relatives and friends. Many of us have likely met such earnest brand advocates, acquaintances who adamantly tell us that their company's products are the best and regard the competition with skepticism. These are, of course, some of the most loyal employees.

As representatives of the recruiting business, every day we have to lure away certain employees and motivate others. At times, this is easy to do, but sometimes it's nearly impossible.

In my own experience, there was one pharmaceutical company from which we could almost never lure away employees. Some of its workers wouldn't even finish listening to a job offer and would refuse to discuss long-term possibilities, quickly ending the conversation. This in itself wouldn't have been notable, except that this dedication was shared by almost all the company's employees.

In conducting a study of the market, we saw that the company offered salaries that were good but still comparable to those in the market as a whole. Its office was located downtown, but this is hardly rare among such companies. What could unify hundreds of people in this way?

The answer turned out to be an effective leader. The company's director was an incredibly charismatic person and professional manager who understood that loyalty is first of all an idea around which to inspire participation.

Incidentally, a leader doesn't always need to be the head of the company. The main thing is that he plays his part, setting the company's course and devising the means necessary to follow it, constantly inspiring faith in the company and in its common task. The first responsibility of a leader is to carefully form a team that will share his values and in turn pass these ideas and values down to all other employees.

There are plenty of ways to do this. Don't be afraid to talk with your employees, speak out at corporate meetings and communicate on the company intranet. Let the formula of basic values be visible to employees at all times. For instance, the company's slogan could appear when office computers are switched on and off. In addition, make sure to arrange channels for employee feedback.

It's worth remembering that group norms strongly affect the behavior of each person. For this reason, the example set by colleague-mentors who are loyal to the company is incredibly useful, especially for new employees.

Another question to be addressed is how to assess employee loyalty. The simplest and most obvious indicator is, of course, staff turnover. If employees at your company typically work there for many years, then staff turnover is low, which generally indicates that the atmosphere in your workplace is healthy. Once every few years, it's often a good idea to invite consultants to assess employee loyalty. They'll spend time at your workplace and mingle with the staff, talking with employees and making other observations, all of which will result in a report outlining any problems and ways to solve them. If the company isn't very large, the human resources department can likely handle this task.

Employee loyalty is essential for a business's success. If your employees aren't satisfied with their work, then your clients won't be satisfied and will come to negatively regard the company as a whole. It would be wise to remember that in business, this boomerang effect is always in effect