Why is Employee Loyalty So Hard to Achieve?

According to this Forbes article, 76 percent of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. The article also goes on to highlight that, on average, a company may lose anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of their employee base. What’s going on here? Are these bad organizations… or are employees just bored?

The answer may be deeper than that. Employee loyalty stems from an actual interest in the industry, organization, or position. Plus, that interest probably should be reciprocated from employer to employee as well. If that wanes or was never there in the first place, loyalty suffers. There ceases to be a reason for the employee to care outside of a paycheck.

Let’s look at an example. Bill has been working as an IT rep for three years at Murray Tech. Since he got the job straight out of college, he was pretty excited about starting his career in the industry of his choice. He’s a smart guy, full of ideas and potential, but needs to be guided in the right direction. However, three years later, Bill feels burnt out, unappreciated, and lacks focus. In short, he’s disengaged.

The reason for Bill’s state of mind is common for people in his position. His reasons include:

  • There’s no room for advancement
  • The only feedback he receives are from yearly performance reviews
  • He performs the same tasks over and over
  • His manager doesn’t seem to care about him outside of the bottom line

This makes his days mundane and repetitive, and leads to:

  • Feeling no loyalty from his employer
  • Bill scouring for jobs elsewhere
  • Drop in his engagement level

And when Bill’s engagement levels drop, so does company loyalty. Essentially, you can’t have one without the other.

When instances like Bill’s happen, it doesn’t just affect him. It can be viral; it spreads through the organization. Suddenly, that 20 to 50 percent of dropped employees feels very real and can actually hurt a business.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Employee loyalty, when seriously considered, can be achieved if employers invest in the well-being of their workers, while at the same time allowing them to be in charge of their own engagement so they don’t feel suffocated. Here’s how:

Hire the right people. It all starts at the beginning. If employers hire self-starters and those that have an interest in the industry, there will likely be less boredom and more transformations, originality, and positive changes to an organization. Let’s face it: managers don’t have time to babysit those employees who don’t come to the table with the right mindset. These employees don’t come up with solutions outside of what a manager brings them, which leads to dead weight. Avoid them at all costs.

Give feedback often. One of the reasons Bill’s loyalty dropped was because he wasn’t getting enough feedback from his manager. Performance reviews that happen once a year just don’t cut it in our million-objectives-a-day world. Employees need real-time feedback, as well as the ability to see the impact of their involvement in a goal. When employers do this, they are simultaneously creating a conversation, which leads to engagement. Employees can see what they are doing right or wrong, and how they can move forward in the future.

Let them have the reins. As we mentioned, managers can’t babysit their employees. Nor should they have to. For an employee to grow as a professional, they have to take control of their own careers and figure out how to be those self-starters that can bring value to an organization. Let them bring ideas to the table, give them more responsibility, encourage them to track and manage their careers. When managers do this, employees will feel a more solid connection to their jobs, as well as the organization, boosting loyalty and commitment to an organization.