Too many organizations expect employees to be loyal without providing anything truly valuable in return. Companies offer their workers a wage, but wages can be procured from any employer — and considering the ongoing labor shortage, it is not difficult for most workers to find an available position in their field at another business. Business leaders who want to develop loyalty in their workforce need to take steps toward building a workplace that nurtures workers in specific ways. Here are a few real steps leaders can take to start building more loyalty today.

Create a Safe, Positive Environment

Humans do not need safety or satisfaction to experience feelings of loyalty; plenty of people develop loyalty to dangerous groups, like violent cults or fascist governments. However, it is much easier for a worker to feel loyal to a workplace when they know that they have safety and security, which might not be available in similar roles at other organizations. There must be a workplace wellbeing program also in place so the employees’ job satisfaction increases.

Business leaders can cultivate a safe and positive work environment in many dozens of ways. To start, it is imperative that workplaces are compliant with any related safety regulations, which should protect workers’ mental and physical well-being. Leaders should make their offices safe spaces for communication, so workers feel permitted to express emotions and opinions without retribution. Finally, it should go without saying that workplaces need to be welcoming of diversity and accepting of every worker’s background, beliefs and lifestyle.

Communicate Openly

Communication is one of the most important human skills — not just in business, but in life. Business leaders need to practice their communication skills, improving their ability to communicate with their teams clearly and openly. Total transparency within an organization is not always possible, as businesses typically want to hide some components of their strategy to remain competitive in their market. However, leaders should strive to share as much as possible with their workers, which will help employees buy into business strategies and develop unshakeable loyalty.

Transparency seems difficult, but it is actually relatively simple. Business leaders can communicate openly by:

  • Explaining reasoning behind decisions
  • Making themselves available for conversations with employees
  • Revealing the details of their work processes
  • Responding quickly and honestly to queries
  • Being receptive to feedback from employees

Act on Employee Feedback

Speaking of feedback, it is not enough for business leaders to collect the thoughts, opinions and ideas of their workforce; they need to take steps to act upon the feedback they receive. Too often, organizations collect feedback as a means of measuring certain metrics associated with employee satisfaction, engagement and loyalty without using the information they receive to improve the work environment in a meaningful way.

Acting on received performance review comments is one of the best ways to build employee loyalty. Employees need to know that their perspective is valuable to business leadership, and in many cases, feedback can provide leaders with useful insight into inefficiencies, redundancies, and other issues negatively impacting success. Leaders should seriously consider every suggestion offered by employees and enact those that could markedly improve operations.

Provide Frequent Recognition

Employees need to know that their efforts and achievements are seen and appreciated by their peers and superiors. Yet, many organizations treat recognition as a natural consequence of outstanding behavior and not like an essential component of the employee experience. To cultivate loyalty within the workforce, companies need to understand that workers require regular recognition.

Employee recognition programs are becoming more popular thanks to the Great Resignation, in which tens of millions of employees have quit their jobs, many citing a lack of recognition and resulting disrespect for their efforts. Leaders looking to build good recognition habits can rely on platforms like Workhuman, which make it easier to design and implement employee recognition programs that develop loyalty.

Practice Autonomy

Autonomy, or the ability to self-direct, is incredibly important to many employees, who chafe under micromanagement from hovering business leaders. Though many business leaders fear that laziness and apathy will develop amongst an autonomous workforce, the truth is that the vast majority of employees are not only capable but actually fulfilled by setting their own processes and pace.

When a company trusts its workforce, its workforce is more likely to develop trust and loyalty in return. Leaders should build a culture of trust in the workplace by delegating tasks and providing workers the freedom to accomplish those tasks in whatever ways they see fit. Of course, leaders must make themselves available for resources, support, guidance and advice — but they should only offer these when workers ask for them to ensure autonomy.

Loyalty is a complex concept, especially in the workplace. Not every worker develops loyalty for the same reasons, so it is important for organizations to offer a workplace that appeals to most workers, with safety, transparency, efficiency, recognition and autonomy.