Happy and engaged employees automatically mean a thriving business. But what if you start noticing that your workers aren’t as motivated as you want them to be? Or maybe you want to be proactive and prevent this situation? If so, read our guide to proven techniques for improving employee loyalty.
Why do employees feel disengaged?
Maslow’s hierarchy puts physical needs like water, food, rest, and warmth at the very base of the pyramid.
Suppose that a high salary could meet all of these needs. After that, people start seeking to fulfill more sophisticated needs for psychological safety, belonging to communities (“I want to belong to a great team and have a good manager that supports me!), and self-actualization (“I want a career and professional development!”).
If any level of needs – from physical to psychological – is insufficiently met, an employee starts to accumulate frustration and becomes less loyal to their team and company. There are specific factors that decrease workforce engagement and loyalty.
A recent survey shows that the financial side still matters when it comes to loyalty at work. Analysts at the World Economic Forum state that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the financial well-being of the workforce, which has been built on the concept of two simultaneous earners.
When asked about the top reasons for changing jobs, people mention lack of pay raises, a need for greater flexibility, and work-life balance.
Of course, every organization is unique. Some organizations try motivating their workforce with high wages but completely ignore non-material rewards like simple appraisals from top managers. Here are popular ways to find out the factors of low loyalty to the company and why your employees are leaving and feel disengaged:
- Exit interviews or surveys with people that leave the company
- Pulse surveys to assess the level of motivation and engagement
- Regular check-ins with leadership
- Independent audits from third-party consultants
Let’s review some of the methods that allow you to improve workforce loyalty.
1. Develop your corporate culture
Almost 14% of surveyed employees say that a clash with corporate culture makes them seek another job. Let’s see how you can achieve an engaging corporate culture.
Create traditions. Whether it’s a monthly team book club or a Friday Counter-Strike game, any tradition brings people together and builds a sense of belonging to something big and meaningful.
Grow A-players, don’t hire them. One of the easiest ways to bring A-players to your team is to hire them — literally buy them with competitive salaries and job offers. Surely, having a star on your team could improve your employer brand. But does it contribute to your culture and team morale? The culture of engagement implies workforce development and growing your talents rather than bringing in external ones.
Create personal myths. The idea of a personal myth is not to lie to your clients, users, and employees. It’s about creating a relatable story that people will unite around. For example, the Apple aesthetic is inspired by Steve Jobs’s calligraphy hobby. You can create your own personal myths to inspire your employees and assess them against your values and beliefs.
2. Help employees with their work–life balance
Many employees felt like COVID-19 turned their lives upside down. People were forced to combine their work, childcare, eldercare, and house chores. This led to a complete re-evaluation of life values. As a result, we’ve seen the Great Resignation, when people quit their jobs to restore work-life balance — or to not work at all.
To keep employee loyalty high, help employees achieve a balance between maintaining a successful career and a harmonious personal life.
Upgrade your benefits package. Introduce new perks and bonuses that allow employees to ease the household routine such as delivery vouchers, babysitting services, taxi compensation, and laundry services.
Revise your policies. Time trackers, strict working hours, and bureaucratic processes for getting sick leave or a day off don’t facilitate work-life balance. If you’ve already switched to a flexible schedule, go further and revise your policies on getting a vacation, a day off, or sick leave. Often, employees simply don’t want to jump through hoops to get a few days off, leading them to start overworking.
Recognize the importance of mental health. A sense of professional stagnation, apathy, fear of change, and other mental states stand between employees and their motivation. An in-house or a third-party therapist could be a powerful addition to your organization. They can help with identifying approaching burnout in time and developing measures to remove stress and emotional blocks.
In some cases, employees might feel shame or hesitation to talk to their supervisors and share their personal issues or concerns. A therapist or psychologist could build rapport, help employees find work-life balance, and provide the necessary level of support and acceptance.
3. Invest in learning and development
To stand out from the competition, invest in your employees’ learning and development. This strategy pays off: businesses with a strong learning culture demonstrate 30% to 50% higher employee engagement and retention rates than their competitors with less commitment to L&D initiatives. Employee loyalty directly depends on your investment in their professional development!
Develop an ownership mindset. The idea is to create a learning environment where an employee doesn’t simply complete a training course or go to a workshop but acts as an owner of the learning process. The role of the employee is to integrate their personal development goals and aspirations into the work process. The role of the company is to not limit employees with work-related development goals.
Diversify your L&D methods. Step off the beaten track in your learning and development efforts. Consider a learning by doing approach such as employee rotation, delegation of authority, and internship programs. These employee development techniques focus on gaining practical skills within the workplace.
Upskill and reskill. An upskilled workforce means sustainability and security. With the burst of technology and automation of routine processes, employees realize their skills don’t guarantee life-long employment and career development. For example, 48% of surveyed employees believe traditional employment will be replaced with a gig economy format that involves selling skills on a short-term basis to those who need them.
Read more in our guide to efficient upskilling programs.
4. Provide feedback
Don’t underestimate the power of good old feedback and its positive impact on employee loyalty. A recent survey reveals that 90% of workers are more likely to stay at a company that provides a regular assessment.
The art of giving feedback is worth a separate article. However, we’d like to share several tips we personally use in our daily work:
- Face the fear of giving negative feedback. Sometimes, you must take this challenge and tell your colleagues about their incompetent sides. Whatever feedback method you choose, remember that you’re playing on your colleague’s side, not against them.
- Share positive feedback. Quite often, we forget to appreciate colleagues and take their accomplishments for granted. Positive feedback is needed to improve the results of future work and show gratitude.
- Keep it regular and confident. Only 42% of employees trust their leadership. Conduct feedback sessions in a one-on-one format and never share your thoughts on an employee’s work in a public space. Be careful even with positive feedback, since some people might be sensitive to being in the spotlight.
5. Show appreciation
In the workplace, we quickly get used to negative feedback, criticizing each other, and accusing our colleagues of incompetence. We take well-performed tasks for granted and forget that one of the greatest motivators is praise and gratitude. In fact, 26% of employees admit that the highest barrier to loyalty to the company is a lack of appreciation and not being valued by their colleagues.
What can you do to recognize your employees?
Celebrate success. Build a culture of immediate celebration of success through company-wide announcements on group chats, thank-you notes, lunches or casual treats, and so on. Tyler Butler, founder and CEO of 11Eleven Consulting, says: “Bring in doughnuts or have a pizza party at lunch on the company dime. This type of reward will not only bring your office together and strengthen their interpersonal relationships, but it will also give them all the feeling of being appreciated.”
Keep appreciation records. Bobby Augst, a co-founder of Cloud 9 Living, talks about The Good Deeds book, which can be an effective way to recognize employee accomplishments. In this book, everyone can write about their colleagues’ good deeds and achievements. Every week, the team gathers to read out the previous week’s entries. This is a great way to highlight employees’ accomplishments that might otherwise go unnoticed and bring the team together.
Support pet projects and entrepreneurship. If your employees have a startup spirit, nurture it. Start with a corporate policy that states your openness to employees’ pet projects and startups. Formal support from an organization empowers employees.
Many people face issues like a lack of time and resources to implement their ideas at the beginning of their startup journey. Remove those hurdles by introducing days or hours for personal projects, grants, and financial support.