10 Ways to Develop Truly Loyal Employees

Employees who stay put should not be confused with those who stay loyal, according to a new, comprehensive study of worker attitudes in business, nonprofit and government organizations. Walker Information, a research company specializing in loyalty and satisfaction measurements, released a workplace loyalty report in September. The study distinguishes the "truly loyal" employees from those who stick around only until a better job comes along or those workers who feel trapped in their jobs.

Only the truly loyal workers will go the extra mile to delight customers and are highly motivated in their work. These employees also would resist offers of other jobs and would recommend their companies to potential employees. Too bad they’re so scarce. Only 30 percent of survey respondents met the criteria. Even so, Marc Drizin, a vice president at Walker and the company’s loyalty specialist, finds this percentage surprisingly high, especially in light of the recession. His explanation is that employees who have lasted through layoffs sometimes feel gratitude and obligation toward their companies.

On the other side of the coin, 34 percent of respondents were classified as "high risk" (meaning they were neither committed to their work nor planning to stay with the company for the next two years), and another 31 percent qualified as "trapped" (not attached to their work or employer but without prospects for other jobs). So what management actions produce the truly loyal employee?

Walker measured the attributes of the truly loyal along two dimensions: experiences and attitudes. When it comes to employees’ personal experiences of their workplaces, the top five drivers of loyalty are:

1. Care and concern that the employer shows for workers—displayed by working conditions, policies and style of management.

2. Fairness of pay and evaluations.

3. Employees’ feelings of accomplishment in their work.

4. Satisfaction with daily activities.

5. Management appreciation for employees’ ideas and input.

Regarding employees’ attitudes about their work and workplaces, the top five drivers of loyalty are:

1. An employee-focused atmosphere in the office—demonstrated by a clear priority put on staffers.

2. Development opportunities—evinced by training.

3. The quality of the employee’s job.

4. The corporate brand—that is, how the employee feels about it.

5. Personal sacrifice required for the job—that is, the so-called work-life balance.

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