If employee allegiance no longer has a metaphysical basis in a culture, people are left with only two values—personal peace and personal affluence—and these values diminish loyalty with their self-absorbed focus. Employees who long only to be left alone to follow better possessions and better experiences have no room for loyal relationships.
To increase commitment, managers focus on employee ownership and retention, either by giving employees equity in the company in hopes that if they own it, they will give more commitment so that their equity will increase in value; or by giving project control in hopes that if the employees own the project, they will give the commitment that is needed for the project’s success. Employee ownership, however, is a deficient substitute for employee loyalty.
Employee Engagement Strategy Examples
Managers who try to encourage loyalty through employee retention soon realize that this too is inadequate to build loyalty. These programs tend to focus on employee self-fulfillment rather than earning and retaining loyalty to the values, purposes and people of the organization.
Our survey indicates that the top five drivers of employee commitment are:
- management’s recognition of the importance of personal and family life;
- opportunities for personal growth;
- satisfying customer needs;
- communications about benefits; and
- skills keeping pace with job requirements.
These drivers deepen employees’ commitments, but only on condition that some other prospective employer is not providing them more fully or with better pay. Gaining employee commitment by nourishing the need for self-fulfillment is another example of loyalty for personal gain rather than loyalty to the values, purpose and people of the organization.
The problem with trying to win loyalty through ownership and retention plans is that these are attempts to buy what must be warranted. Loyalty means to be steadfast in one’s allegiance to a person, cause, or company and to beliefs, practices, and relationships that benefit all involved. A culture that wins loyalty is built by exemplifying high values and right purposes, by assuming constituents to live these high values and right purposes, and by rewarding them when they do and challenging them when they do not.
Four Implications for Employee Loyalty
Managers and employees who take sincerely the need to build loyalty must see four consequences.
- Building loyalty to the values, purposes and people of an organization is swimming against the tide of current trends. It will entail time and energy.
- Managers need to either commit to building employee loyalty or quit criticizing about the lack of it.
- Employees will likely reap what they sow in terms of loyalty. If they do not learn the lessons of loyalty now, they will not know how to earn and build loyalty when they become managers.
- Managers need to vet potential employees as to their prior commitment to organizational values, purposes and people rather than just personal gain.
In terms of employee loyalty, managers can choose to either curse the darkness or light a candle.