Cultivating Employee Loyalty

“I’m giving my two weeks’ notice,” Sarah stated sheepishly. Her manager wondered why she was leaving. Now they had to start the long and costly process of working with HR to find a new person, as well as conducting the training to get a new employee up to speed.

Data shows that 88 percent of employees leave their current role for reasons other than money¹.

Retaining employees is directly tied to their engagement and good morale. Happy employees are more productive and are better team members. People are happy when they feel valued. Two important components of making employees happy are compliments and gratitude. Also, listening is key.

Compliments need to be specific and timely. For example, if your engineer just took care of a client request, focus on her specific action and how it plays out in your compliment. Do it immediately — that day if possible. “Jen, I wanted to thank you for jumping so quickly this morning. It made our best client feel valued. Your skill with clients has a huge impact on our company’s success.”

You always need to be aware of the nonverbal cues you give off when giving praise to your employees. Do you smile and look directly at your employee when giving them compliments? Compliments need to be genuine and you need to know the details, so don’t multi-task or make a half-way effort. Always be on the lookout for good things, as they are likely happening all the time. Watch for opportunities and utilize them.

Don’t praise every member of your team identically. By tying their character into specific actions, you can personalize the compliment and make it much more meaningful. Tom is always the last to leave work, so when you thank him for getting a specific project out the door, let him know that his dedication shows through in everything he does. Personifying his actions can become self-fulfilling, too. Now in his mind he is the dedicated guy and will behave that way going forward.

Context is vital to the successful delivery of feedback. Understand if your employee prefers being verbally recognized 1:1 or in front of others. When delivering criticism or an improvement message, never do it in front of others, as it won’t ever have its intended effect. Also, beware of large awards, because they aren’t always effective to recognize many employees and can potentially damage team cohesion, although they can be good for the right person on the right project.

Show gratitude to your employees by giving them your valuable time.One might prefer a lunch at a good Poke place, another would rather have an espresso at a small coffee shop, still another an hour in a conference room to talk about their career or where the company is going. Remember to focus on listening. A thoughtful, hand-written note can be quite effective, as well. It doesn’t take a lot, but it must demonstrate that you gave them you focused and undivided attention.

Do you know your employees and their families? Do you know that Jamie is a huge tennis fan and would love to spend a day watching the New York Open? When it comes time to doing something nice for someone, you’ll already know what to do. Know if they want time to volunteer at a local animal shelter or get training or a particular piece of software. Again, pay attention and listen to your team.

The more you invest in knowing, recognizing, and appreciating your employees, the less you’ll need to hire and train new ones.

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