CNY: Year Of The Earth Dog – Time to Get Serious About Staff Loyalty?

by Mark Ellwood

Time to Get Serious About Staff Loyalty?

Now that we have begun a new year in the lunar calendar, the talk in recruitment circles has turned, as always, to focus on bonus season and the inevitable mass movement of employees from one workplace to another. Indeed, firms expect to ramp up their hiring, understanding that employees will leave, and they’ll need to poach replacements from rivals.


But is it really that inevitable?


After all, as the Harvard Business Review noted some time ago, the cost of losing good workers has been increasing as labour markets become tighter and because of the increasingly collaborative nature of jobs. As work becomes more team-focused, seamlessly plugging in new players is more challenging. So how to keep teams together and decrease turnover?


If I think about the reasons people give me for wanting to move roles, they tend to boil down to a list of five main motivations:


1. Bosses

Employees don’t need to be friends with their bosses, but they do need a functioning relationship. If something is off, it’s not working. Conversely, staff will work hard and effectively for a someone they consider to be a good boss – who communicates with them well, provides regular feedback and makes them aware of their place in the bigger picture


2. Remuneration

Many people move to get the pay rise. But it’s not purely about cash.  Life changes such as having a family can make employees consider benefits such as medical cover and pensions more seriously. And while some a rise in pay is their overriding motivation, it’s almost always down to other factors driving the desire. And people will work for less if they believe in the organisation, its mission and their bosses. However, for the significant majority of employees, having at least a market rate salary is essential


3. Utilisation

Frequently overlooked, yet often cited as a major reason for employee turn-off. Are the members of the team working in roles that fully utilise their skills and experience? Are they growing, personally, with the work or are they simply clocking in and running on autopilot? Again, communication and feedback with bosses is essential here


4. Culture

A firm’s culture is affected by many different factors, but the key influences are corporate aims, leadership, and relationships with colleagues. An employee might not feel a ‘fit’ with the culture, either now, or in the future - cultures change. Have promises been kept? What’s the level of trust within the organisation? Is there a work/life balance or a competitive workaholic culture? Do the staff have a chance to socialise or is it always heads down?


5. Recognition

The obvious ways to recognise employee contributions are promotions and pay rises. If these fail to materialise employees will soon lose interest and look elsewhere. But staff can be kept on side for longer with regular reviews, appraisals and incremental rewards for impactful work. In fact, just knowing that their contribution is making a difference can be a strong motivator to stay and continue the work


So, to keep these five major factors in check, firms need to adhere to these three core principles:


1. Communicate and feed back

Keep an eye on reporting structures and make sure bosses are developing the staff they manage. 360 degree appraisals can really help here. Through regular appraisals and feedback sessions, make sure staff contributions are understood and recognised and that skills are being utilised and opinions are heard


2. Watch the market

Keep an eye on market remuneration rates to ensure packages are in line with expectations


3. Develop your culture and staff

Develop a strong vision, values and aims with buy-in from staff that include valuing them as contributors and individuals with their own needs. Think about achievable milestones that the teams will strive towards, rather than nebulous mission statements. Also think about how individuals can develop within their roles


It is true that, as much as you can try to keep staff, some will leave. In my next posts I’ll be talking about how to spot the signs that people are looking to leave and how to plan for the inevitable changes.