Behind every business success story is a bevy of loyal employees, true blue, through and through. Loyal employees save companies money, offer up innovative ideas, solve problems without prompting, and stay the course even when times are tough.
Here are three ways you can easily foster this spirit in your own company:
1. Recruit Loyalty
The best way to gain employee loyalty is to start by hiring employees who are most likely to be loyal. Past patterns are big indicators of future behavior. If someone is not inclined to be loyal they never will be, no matter how hard you try to gain their loyalty. So, recruit people who have shown their previous employers the loyalty you expect them to show to you.
How do you spot loyalty on a resume?
Length of Employment: If a prospective employee has changed jobs more often than you change the batteries in your smoke detector, it’s likely you’ll be searching for their replacement well before their annual review.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying a candidate has to work a lifetime for one company in order to prove their loyalty. If an otherwise well-qualified candidate has changed jobs several times in the last five years, you may want to steer clear.
At the very least, find out exactly why he left each job, and again, look for patterns. If he readily shares his issues with his previous employers, chances are he’ll have no problem spilling about you to his next prospective employer.
Read Between the Lines: After you read through a candidate’s resume, read it again, and this time, look for hints about how he views his previous employers. For example, if the language is generally positive, as in “I enjoyed my position at…” or “I learned a lot from my supervisor,” you can be sure that even if he had issues with his previous employer, he did not become a disloyal, bitter employee the moment he cashed his last paycheck.
Ask the Question: Often, when checking references and running background checks, employers focus on skills and forget to ask the loyalty question. When calling a candidate’s references, make sure to add, “Would you say he is a loyal employee?” to your list of questions, and then ask for specific examples. After you call a few references, you’ll start to see a theme and you’ll know for sure whether or not he’s loyal.
2. Gain by Giving
Here’s a rule to live by that’s simple, but true: to get loyalty, you must give loyalty. If you want employees who back you up; who stick with you when times are tough; who respect your confidentiality policies and protect your interests; who go the extra mile even when you’re not looking, you have to give your employees all that – and more.
When issues come up, always give your employees the benefit of the doubt. Believe in them. For example, when dealing with disgruntled clients, take time to really listen to your employee’s side of the story and let her know you are not going to throw her under the bus in order to please or keep a client.
Always keep your employee’s best interests at heart. Would they feel safer if you installed better lighting in the parking garage? Could you get them a better deal on prescription co-pays? Do they need a more flexible time-off policy so they can handle sick kids, issues with aging parents or other emergencies? When you show your loyalty to employees, they will naturally want to reciprocate. It’s human nature.
3. Reward Specific Acts of Loyalty
It’s not enough to label your employees as loyal and thank them for who they are. People want to be acknowledged for specific accomplishments. Don’t let their heroic acts go unnoticed. Take time to applaud their efforts.
Get on the loudspeaker and praise Jerry in project management who worked through the night to meet a crazy deadline. Pop the champagne for Tracey and John who represented your company at the trade show and brought back a ton of new leads. Round up everyone and applaud Dana in accounting who took on the giant mess-of-a-job no one else wanted. When you publicly praise your staff for acts of loyalty, they will show their gratitude by increasing their loyalty to you and your company.
Gaining employee loyalty is absolutely essential for any business. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to accomplish. Scope out potential hires with a pattern of loyal behavior, give your employees the loyalty you expect from them, and every time an employee demonstrates their loyalty in an unusual or extreme way, make a big deal of it in front of everyone. Soon enough, you’ll have a bona fide posse ready to help you take over the world. And with a loyal crew, you just might do it.
Mike Michalowicz is the Author of the business cult-classic, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Michalowicz has built three multi-million dollar companies, is a frequent expert guest on MSNBC, CNBC and other television networks, and is a nationally renowned speaker. His website is http://www.ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com and his book is available on Amazon.com and all major book stores.