Monday, August 17, 2009

"People don't leave their jobs, they leave their managers."

Although committed and loyal employees are the most influential factor to becoming an employer of choice, it's no surprise that companies and organizations face significant challenges in developing energized and engaged workforces. However, there is plenty of research to show that increased employee commitment and trust in leadership can positively impact the company's bottom line. In fact, the true potential of an organization can only be realized when the productivity level of all individuals and teams are fully aligned, committed and energized to successfully accomplish the goals of the organization.

As a result, the goal of every company should be to improve the desire of employees to stay in the relationship they have with the company. When companies understand and manage employee loyalty - rather than retention specifically - they can reap benefits on both sides of the balance sheet i.e., revenues and costs.

On the revenue side of the balance sheet, loyal and committed employees are more likely to go "above and beyond" to meet customer needs and are highly motivated to work to the best of their ability. Both of these traits are crucial for continued customer commitment and ongoing revenue and growth for the company.

On the cost side, loyal employees stay longer, resist competitive job offers, do not actively look for other employment and recommend the company to others as a good place to work. These four behaviors positively influence the cost side of the balance sheet because they are leading indicators of employee retention. The longer companies keep their employees, the longer they can avoid having to pay to replace them.

In other words, rather than focusing only on retention (that is, trying to retain employees who have already decided to leave), organizations should proactively recognize the benefits of understanding, managing and improving employee loyalty. The most successful organizations are those that can adapt their organizational behavior to the realities of the current work environment where success is dependent upon innovation, creativity and flexibility. Additionally, the dynamics of the work environment have to reflect a very diverse population comprised of individuals whose motivations, beliefs and value structures differ vastly from the past and from each another. Arguably, the most valuable, but also volatile, corporate asset is a stable workforce of competent, dedicated employees, since such an employee base gives companies a powerful advantage; depth of knowledge and organizational strength.

One of the key steps to understanding and improving employee loyalty is by acknowledging the importance of the following factors in building loyalty and satisfaction:

Broadly-defined responsibilities rather than narrowly-defined job functions
Effective and regular performance evaluations, both formally and informally
A corporate emphasis on employee learning, development and growth
Wide-ranging employee participation in the organization as a whole

Typically, a combination of factors influences employees' decisions to stay at their current job. Contributing factors include satisfying work, a sense of job security, clear opportunities for advancement, a compelling corporate mission combined with the ability to contribute to the organization's success, and a feeling that their skills are being effectively used and challenged. Specifically, employees who enjoy their work, identify themselves with their employer and perceive that the company is flexible regarding work and family issues also intend to stay with the organization.