Loyalty: A morphing concept in the age of a fluid workforce
For many years, loyalty in the business environment was measured by tenure or resignations. However, this is the age of the fluid workforce. That which motivates Millennials to stay or leave a company is driven by many things, several which are largely out of the hands of HR managers. Unless they reframe their understanding of loyalty. Says Yatish Parshotam, Chief People Officer, Entelect.
The baby boomer generation tended to stay in one job for their entire working career. My dad is a great example of this having been a shipping manager for a company for 25 years. His previous job was for 15 years. In neither job, did he receive fancy perks or bonuses, there were no ‘pause’ areas or coffee machines.
However, fast forward to the Millennials workforce and we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the mind-sets of our employees. The pace of employee needs and demands in the workplace has changed. Along with their expectations of management. For some while, the phrase ‘people leave their managers not the company’ may have been true, but it does not sufficiently address the reason for leaving.
According to a recent industry surveys,
• 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 16% are actively disengaged, 55% are not engaged (gallup)
• 21% of millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, more than 3x the number of non-millennials (gallup)
• 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years (deloitte)
Many companies today have adopted new policies and practices to provide an environment that supports and encourages Millennials. There are great work opportunities, succession planning, well-defined growth paths, autonomy, health programmes, training and mentorship. But employees still leave. Why?
Does this mean that employees today are not loyal or, should we be redefining our definition of loyalty? Our reality is that we live in an age of a Fluid workforce so can loyalty still exist and if so, what drives loyalty in this environment? In my opinion, employee engagement is one of the key factors.
Typically, people leave because there is a deeper cultural misalignment with the company. Companies need to recognize that loyalty is a two-way street. That means not only providing employees with growth and development opportunities but also taking the time to engage with them personally and understand their aspirations. This is most authentic when the support offered is entirely selfless. Sometimes, that means encouraging people to follow their passions even if that means they move out of your organization.
The reality is people will leave. That is the nature of today’s fluid workforce. However, loyalty is something that begins within the organisation, but it could reach far beyond the four walls of your business.
When people leave our company, they do so for many reasons, some of which are personal and, which no counter-offer can address. But if that person knew there was an authentic, selfless interest in their personal development and growth, then they will remain loyal to your company beyond their duration with you. Because employees who move on, do so with the value you’ve contributed to them.
For the past three years, Entelect have participated in the Deloitte Best Company Survey. This past year, our results reflected some of this thinking, specifically around building loyalty with employees in a way that reaches beyond the four walls of this business:
• 93% of respondents felt that in the last year they’d had the opportunity to grow and learn
• 94% of employees believed that this company cares about developing people for long-term careers, not just the current job
• 95% said they could identify with the values of the organization, and
• 94% said there is a feeling of trust throughout the organisation
In real terms, practices that achieve results like these means your employees will likely continue to be your brand ambassador beyond their time with you. And that they will do so out of a genuine appreciation for the value you have contributed to their growth. They may wish to return to your company, provide high quality referrals or, you may find that strategic business partnerships emerge that could have far reaching benefits for the future.
In my role, working for a software engineering company, my greatest excitement comes from not only helping people grow in their roles but as people in their personal lives as well. When they move on, their relationship with our organization remains strong because of the value we have contributed to them professionally, and personally.
Companies must demonstrate loyalty to their employees by treating and investing in them as though they will be with you forever. You will never be able to control the market; competitor hiring strategies, economic downturns, or consumer trends. But if you focus on the individuals, your company will be far stronger.
Engage with your employees on a personal level and selflessly put their growth first. This is where loyalty starts. But there is no reason loyalty should end here. Employees valued in this way will remain loyal to your organization for a very long time and the relationship could grow into something more than either of you expected.