It's no secret that loyal employees are the driving force behind solid, stable, and profitable companies, whereas unhappy, disgruntled, and disloyal employees can quickly bring any company to its knees.
Loyal employees typically produce higher-quality products and services, leaving customers happier and more willing to do business with a company in the future.
Sales and marketing executives are the window to customers and traditionally play a huge role in building a company's brand. Meanwhile, employee loyalty builds customer loyalty, which builds brand loyalty. It's as simple as that. And loyal sales executives are happy to offer the services of a company they believe in—and that plays an integral role in corporate profitability.
Companies that lack such employee commitment can change their culture and build loyalty from the inside out by following these eight steps:
1. Clearly define the purpose and values of the company, and share them with everyone
The purpose of any company is why it exists—the defining reason the organization was created beyond making a profit. The values of a company are akin to its ethics, the standards by which it operates, and its expectations for how its employees will conduct business.
In a successful company, employees feel connected and committed to the company's purpose and values. Employees want to know that the company's purpose is to make the very best product or service for the price. If employees do not believe their product or service is making an honorable, real, and valued difference, they will not stay with the company.
At JetBlue Airways, everyone is known as a crewmember. Hiring is based on attitude and a shared value system that consists of safety, caring, integrity, fun, and passion. Moreover, the company operates under five principles of leadership, which include treating people right, inspiring greatness, and communicating consistently.
Companies need to tie the purpose and values to individual goals and roles within the organization. That helps employees know what they are working toward each day.
For example, the mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. Southwest's commitment to its employees is as follows:
We are committed to provide our employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest customer.
According to Brandy King, a 10-year Southwest employee, the company has built its phenomenal success by putting employees first, even ahead of customers and shareholders.
2. Align and communicate
Clear, concise, and consistent communication about the vision, purpose, and values must come from the top down and must be reinforced by managers and leaders throughout the organization. Doing so provides employees with a vision for the future and tells them how they contribute to that vision.
Good communication starts with ensuring that everyone is aligned with the company's strategic direction, especially the senior leaders. They have to be totally aligned, trusting, and supportive of one another, and communicate their alignment in both their actions and their communications.
Senior managers are the most visible team members and those whom employees watch most closely. As soon as a perceived company leader deviates from the company plan or direction, concerns and rumors are almost certain to start.
When managers keep communication lines open, work is transparent, and employees are aligned and know that they matter and are important.
When managers do not share information with employees and do not include them in decision making, employees do not feel valued. Employees who do not feel part of the company offer poor service, little creativity, and innovation, and they lack efficiency and effectiveness in doing their work.
3. Listen to employees
A person on the manufacturing floor, an analyst in marketing, or a customer-service representative can contribute to improvements in productivity or the company's competitive edge.
Healthy and profitable companies provide an open forum and environment that allow people to speak out without repercussions and make suggestions that can be acted on.
Those companies encourage employees to share great ideas, knowing that suppressing them would only demoralize employees. Once morale is down, employees leave to become part of another company where their innovative and creative ideas will be heard and acted on.
4. Engage people in solutions
Once suggestions and ideas are heard, it's wise to engage those same individuals in determining the feasibility of implementation. That expands their thinking and enables them to think outside their current responsibilities.
They have to consider the long-term impact, cost of implementation, actual process, and timeframe for implementation. By doing so, companies foster and grow their future leaders. People want to grow. Companies can either provide employees with growth opportunities or watch employees walk out the door.
5. Invest in training
Most companies train their people on the elements of doing their job: how to run a particular machine or competitive program, or financial processes and procedures. That is important.
However, people must also be trained on how to better interact across the company, understand other people's functions and departments, and comprehend the company's financials. People want to be in a continual growth and learning mode. Training benefits not only the employees but also the company.
Wegmans, a highly successful supermarket chain based in upstate New York, hires people based on the values of caring and trust. The company expects its employees to live those values every day. Its corporate philosophy is that everything is a learning event for its employees and the more the company invests in training the more it comes back to the bottom line.
Give employees the opportunity to continually learn new things, and they will be forever loyal.
6. Celebrate successes
Rewarding and recognizing employees on an individual level, a team level, and a company level is critical.
People need reminders that they are doing a good job and are on the right track. Small and frequent awards are the best: for example, Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks gift cards, pizza lunches, and chocolate bars.
Managers must also sincerely use the two most underused words in the English language "Thank you." Fewer words mean more.
7. Invest in your managers and leaders
A manager, supervisor, or leader is the most important person to an employee and a lifeline to information, recognition, challenges, and a future vision.
Being a manager is one of the most diverse and difficult positions. Managers and supervisors need to be coaches, friends, and disciplinarians, while also working on improving process, procedures, and setting new directions.
They have to know how to work with people in their 20s and in their 60s. To excel at such a multifaceted role, they need frequent training and inspiration.
People leave managers more readily than they leave jobs. To maintain productivity and loyalty, invest in your managers and supervisors.
8. Create a responsibility-based culture
Create a culture that is based on trust, teamwork, creativity, and innovation, and you will have a successful company.
Trust is essential at all levels of an organization. Employees must trust that senior management is operating with the company's best interest in mind. Co-workers need to trust one another to do the best job possible and at the highest standards.
When teamwork exists, people believe in one another and partner to create success. And when employees have the opportunity to follow guidelines and take responsibility to do what is right without being reprimanded, they're encouraged to make logical and responsible decisions.
It's all about developing a culture where great people use initiative and creativity and take ownership of their jobs. Employee loyalty builds customer loyalty, which builds brand loyalty.
* * *
Loyalty is all-encompassing. Building loyalty drives the global economy. The above eight tips shape where people work, how long they work there, and how wholeheartedly they apply their mental energies.
The most-admired, best-to-work-for, and best-run companies are those where management is dedicated to understanding its employees', customers', and shareholders' needs, but, more important, where trust and loyalty are elements of their business purpose.
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