How (and Why) to Build Employee Loyalty

Starting-up and maintaining a business isn’t easy, especially when the competition is breathing down your neck. That is why you need people you can depend on to have your back, to make the journey to success and to keep riding that wave. Your employees are your income protection. It doesn’t matter if you’re in production or sales, it’s important to have loyal employees that stand with you. Finding them may just turn out to be the easy part. Keeping them, on the other hand, is a totally different story and explains the importance of building employee loyalty.

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Your Front

In any type of business, the boss is rarely the one to greet a customer at the door. It will, more than likely, be an employee.  A loyal employee will extend the same welcome to a customer as you yourself would, because he/she understands the importance of keeping the customer happy and the consequences if you don’t.

The question is: how do you install this knowledge in someone? The answer is quite simple: You lead by example. Before you start hiring, you should be able to outline your company’s goals, your employee expectations and benefits, as well as a code of conduct. Have it ready, in written form, when you welcome a new member to your team. This avoids misunderstandings and gives everyone guidelines to follow.

Once you have them aboard, treat your employees with respect and let them know that you see them as an integral part of the company. Let them know you are the team leader and they are the team. Neither part can survive on its own. It takes the sum of both to keep the boat afloat and heading in the right direction. Make sure to be observant and take note of how each member of your team interacts with their fellow employees and customers. Take note of things you like about them and, of course, of faults.  Always commend good deeds and accomplishments, best in a team environment so the others might profit from the positive input and, possibly, pick-up some good habits they now know are appreciated. If you have something negative to say, address the person in a private environment and let them know how you feel. Don’t be condescending, that just builds up resentment. Instead offer a solution to the problem or a suggestion of how you believe this should be handled. In your next team meeting, which, by the way, you should have on a regular basis, address the subject, NOT the person. Let your team know how to deal with such a “hypothetical” situation. Ask for their opinion and if something better than your suggestion comes up, accept it and declare it as the new modus operandi. You have just created a win/win situation.

Your Muscle

No matter who the boss is, there will always be workers. While you are busy acquiring customers, they are the ones taking care of production (it doesn’t matter if it’s canning beans or corresponding) so you have something to sell. Why is it important to have loyal employees for this? Because,  you can rely on them to get the job done without major fallout. Furthermore, they love their job and they are well trained and know what they’re doing.

If you have to keep training new people because you haven’t built loyalty with the veteran employees, you will only be hurting yourself. Not only is it time consuming, it’s expensive.  According to a study by Columbia University , replacing a lost employee will cost you approximately 150% of that person’s annual salary. Eye-opening isn’t it? Not only do beginners work slower, because they’re not familiar with your company’s work mode, they will make more mistakes. This leads to less production, ergo less to sell.

It’s becoming clearer isn’t it? You can motivate your team by setting production goals and rewarding them for reaching them. Give incentives for exceptional work. This can be in form of a bonus, movie tickets, game tickets, a dinner for two (be creative). It doesn’t have to be a huge thing; it’s about recognition and showing that you are aware of the effort put forward by each of your employees.

Your Dependents

You are responsible for your employees. Let them know that you are ready to take on this roll and that you have their best interest at heart. If you show your employees that you genuinely care about their welfare, there is nothing (within reason) they won’t do for you and your company. It’s your job to make sure there is plenty of work for them and it’s their job to make sure it gets done. Just as a well-oiled machine runs smoothly, an appreciated team works optimally.

Make sure to match the pay to the job done and don’t forget to review pay on a regular basis. You want your employees to grow with your company and adjusting pay accordingly is a part of that. You might want to think of offering an employee income protection plan, such as offered by Suncorp, for the unforeseen. This is just another way to show you care. Have a company party once a year to celebrate their accomplishments and your success . Above all, don’t forget to stop and say hello, ask how he/she is, pat a shoulder now and then.  Even when you get to the point where you have managers, don’t forget you are the boss, their team leader, and they want to know you still see them. The magic to loyalty is to be a true leader.

All in all, building loyalty is about being aware of what is going on in your company and with your subordinates and subsequently acting upon it. A little creativity and a lot of common sense will get you to the point of optimizing your workforce and letting you build a solid foundation for a prospering    company. This is your future, go for it.

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