12 Steps To Increase Employee Loyalty In 2024

In this article, we’ll cover 12 essential steps to increase employee loyalty in shift-based work. Designed with small businesses in mind, these strategies aim to create a loyal and motivated workforce for enhanced productivity and improved customer satisfaction.

Fostering employee loyalty is essential for the long-term success of any business.  Not only will it decrease turnover costs, but it can also boost productivity, increase efficiency, and provide a much more stable work environment for everyone.

Table of contents

Key takeaways

  • Foster a culture of employee loyalty to reduce turnover and retain valuable talent.
  • Understand the significance of employee loyalty and its impact on your small business.
  • Implement actionable steps that address the reasons employees might leave and promote long-term commitment.

Before we dive in, you should probably ask yourself if you understand what employee loyalty is and what it means to you. 

What is employee loyalty and what does it mean to you?

Employee loyalty is the emotional attachment and dedication employees have towards their organization. It’s more than just tenure—it signifies a deep commitment to the company’s values, goals, and success. For small businesses in shift-based work, employee loyalty translates to a stable workforce that consistently delivers high-quality services and strengthens the overall company culture.

Reasons employees leave

Employers aren’t loyal

Employees are more likely to stay when they feel valued and supported by their employers. Demonstrating loyalty to your workforce by recognizing their efforts and offering competitive benefits can foster a sense of reciprocation and loyalty.

Bad managers

Poor management practices can drive employees away. Investing in leadership training and promoting effective communication between managers and their teams can significantly improve employee loyalty.

Lack of engagement

Disengaged employees may feel disconnected from the company’s mission and vision. Encouraging regular feedback, recognition, and involving employees in decision-making can boost engagement and loyalty.

No professional growth

When employees perceive limited opportunities for growth and advancement, they may seek opportunities elsewhere. Providing career development programs and paths for progression can enhance loyalty and retention

Poor compensation

Employees who feel underpaid for their contributions may be tempted by better-paying opportunities. Conducting periodic salary reviews and offering competitive compensation packages can reinforce loyalty and commitment.

Benefits of employee loyalty 

It builds customer loyalty

Loyal employees tend to provide better customer service, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

It boosts employee retention

Creating a loyal work environment reduces turnover, saving time and resources spent on recruitment and training.

Increased productivity

Loyal employees are more invested in their work, resulting in higher productivity levels and improved overall performance.

No one says this will be easy. Inspiring loyalty is a tricky thing—it’s intangible. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to get your employees to stick around for the long run. Here are 12 steps to help you encourage and build employee loyalty:

1. Increase confidence in leadership

The results of a 2003 Darwin Survey of mid-level management show that one of the most important components of employee loyalty is confidence in leadership.  Your employees want to feel that the management team knows what they’re doing and your team wants to work for a company that is at least trying to be the best in its field.

To do this, you have to ensure that your personal game is at its best.  Take every opportunity you can to become better at what you do.  Seek training, encourage feedback, and look for ways to maximize your own potential.  When employees see the management team excelling and the company doing well, that positive energy will flow downhill and enthuse even the most jaded employee.

Gather and act on employee feedback

Create opportunities for employees to voice their opinions and concerns openly. Implement regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or one-on-one meetings to gather feedback. Actively address their feedback and show employees that their input is valued and can influence positive changes in the company.

2. Create a positive and safe work environment 

Improve company culture

Company culture is really a combination of the personal interaction between management and employees, and the personal interaction between employees.  There is a certain amount of job competency that comes into play but generally it’s more about attitudes, personalities, and how well everyone gets along.

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of the company’s culture and address any interpersonal problems that arise, all without “meddling” in personal affairs.  The first step is modeling good behavior yourself.  Weed out the cattiness, the “bad days,” and personal prejudices.  Next, look at your management team and then employees. If necessary, call out (privately) individual employees and explain to them that poor attitudes and bad behavior will not be tolerated.

 Prioritize onboarding and training 

Ensure that new employees receive comprehensive onboarding and training to help them transition into the company culture and provide the necessary skills for their roles. A well-structured onboarding process can set the foundation for long-term loyalty and commitment.

Create avenues for communication 

Establish clear and open lines of communication throughout the organization. Encourage employees to share their ideas, questions, and feedback with management and among their teams. Transparent communication fosters trust and a sense of belonging, strengthening employee loyalty.

3. Manage and promote employee engagement

Kyle LaMalfa, Loyalty Expert and Allegiance Best Practices Manager, says that employee engagement is the number one component of loyalty.  While LaMalfa recommends using actual analytical tools like the Likert Scale (a numerical scale of agreement), small business managers can generally get a feel for engagement without impersonal surveys.  Just keep your eyes and ears open.  Listen to the water cooler gossip, watch who participates during meetings and training sessions, see who does the lion’s share of the work during co-op projects, get to know your employees on a personal (or at least individual) level.

And because engagement plays across all aspects of an employee’s performance, you can use “secret shoppers” (even in non-retail organizations) to get an unbiased sneak peek into how customers view your company through the interactions they have with your employees.

4. Enhance equipment and operations

Frustration is insidious. Once it sets in, it’s incredibly hard to weed out and, like a pebble in your shoe, only seems to create more problems the longer it’s in there. One of the most common sources of employee frustration is not having adequate training or resources to get the job done. If you’re constantly throwing employees into situations in which they don’t feel comfortable or expecting them to meet goals with broken, outdated, or less-than-useful equipment, there will be problems.  And those problems—no matter what you might like to think—are your responsibility.

Use solutions that will reduce friction for both you and your employees. For example, does the employee schedule cause a lot of issues between managers and employees? Give them an easier way to communicate and manage the schedule with employee scheduling software. Does the POS system fail repeatedly? Make the investment to upgrade the equipment and you’ll see the improvement in attitudes and goals.

5. Structured dispute resolution

When problems arise, how well you deal with them plays an important part in shaping your employee’s attitudes. Having a structured system of dispute resolution is essential for creating a fair and balanced management style. If your employees know exactly what to expect during the dispute process, they’re more likely to accept the outcome, whether they like it or not. On the other hand, if your dispute system is the least bit arbitrary, you’ll find yourself facing charges of favoritism, exclusion, and possibly even discrimination.

6. Nip problems in the bud

You don’t want issues to fester until they explode like hand grenades in the break room. Keep your eyes and ears open (and tell your managers to do the same). Look for warning signs before things come to a head.  And when you spot an issue, deal with it fairly, sooner rather than later.

7. Maintain neutrality

Fairness is a function of neutrality. Calvin Sun of TechRepublic maintains that neutrality can be a manager’s best friend.  When an employee comes to you with a problem or concern, your immediate response may be either to join their cause or to shoot down their concern without a second thought. However, this puts you in the position of compatriot rather than supervisor. While employees want to feel they can approach their boss, you must set yourself apart and look at the issue objectively. By doing so, you can not only zero in on what’s best for the company, but you can also see what needs to be done in order to put the employee’s mind at ease without playing favorites.

Remember, you’re the boss and employees don’t have to like your orders, they just have to respect them.

8. Trust and empower your people

Respect is a two-way street and while many managers demand it of their employees, they often “play” at giving it back. Employees can see through false statements and deeds like radar through fog. The last thing you want is for everyone under you to tag you as a fake. That’s why everything you do—good or bad—should always be genuine. Relate to your employees on a more equal plane and give them, their suggestions, and their personal lives the respect they deserve without spouting platitudes.

9. Avoid micromanagement

Part of earning an employee’s loyalty is showing them that you trust them to do their job. If you’re constantly looking over their shoulder, you’re not letting them grow. While taking charge of everything may seem like a good idea, it’s a surefire way to generate animosity and distrust in your subordinates. Instead, set reachable goals, ensure employees have the skills and resources to get the job done, and give feedback during and after the fact in order to mold performance positively.

10. Reward appropriately

Rewards can be powerful loyalty builders, but they must be appropriate to the action or else they’ll create an impression of imbalance or unfairness.  Be sure to reward your employees liberally (either with praise or simple “freebies”), but ensure the reward matches the deed.

11. Align employees with your company vision 

To effectively align employees with your company vision, it’s crucial to communicate the organization’s purpose clearly and consistently. Use various channels, including team meetings, newsletters, and digital displays in the workplace to reinforce the message. Check out these ideas on how to align your team with the company vision to foster loyalty:

Inspiring stories of impact

Share success stories and testimonials that showcase the positive impact of the company’s products or services on customers or the community. Highlight how the collective efforts of employees contributed to these achievements. By connecting individual roles to the bigger picture, employees will feel more motivated to contribute their best and take pride in their work.

Employee involvement in setting goals

Involve employees in the goal-setting process by encouraging them to propose objectives aligned with the company’s vision. When employees have a say in defining targets, they feel a greater sense of ownership, and they’ll be more committed to achieving those goals. This empowerment fosters a stronger bond between employees and the organization.

Recognition for living the values

Recognize and reward employees who exemplify the company’s values in their daily work. Acknowledge individuals who go above and beyond to uphold the organization’s principles, whether it’s through exceptional customer service, innovation, or teamwork. This recognition reinforces the importance of your company’s values and encourages others to follow suit.

12. Be people-centric

Prioritize your employees’ well-being, growth, and work-life balance. When employees feel genuinely cared for and supported, they are more likely to stay loyal to the organization. Here are some ways you can build a people-centric approach to nurture employee loyalty:

Flexible work arrangements

Offer flexible work options, such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks, to accommodate employees’ personal needs and responsibilities. A healthy work-life balance fosters job satisfaction and loyalty, as employees can better manage their personal and professional lives.

Professional development opportunities

Offer ways for employees to enhance their skills and knowledge through workshops, training sessions, or tuition assistance programs. Supporting their career growth shows a commitment to their long-term success, encouraging them to remain dedicated to the organization.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Implement an EAP to support employees’ mental health and well-being. EAPs offer counseling services, resources for managing stress, and assistance during challenging life events. By showing genuine concern for your employees’ welfare, you create a caring environment that fosters loyalty and a sense of belonging.

Transparent and inclusive decision-making

Involve employees in decision-making processes whenever possible. Seek their input on matters that impact their work and the company as a whole. When employees feel heard and included in decision-making, they develop a stronger emotional connection to your business and are more likely to stay.

Every little bit counts

Increasing employee loyalty in shift-based work is a strategic investment that yields significant benefits for small businesses. By fostering a supportive work environment, valuing employee feedback, and aligning their goals with the company’s vision, businesses can build a loyal and dedicated workforce, driving long-term success and growth.

You don’t have to implement all of these practices at once. Start small and work up from there. Loyalty builds cumulatively—employees gradually respond to changes in behavior, management style, and company performance. So every little bit, every positive action, every improvement, every appropriate response to a challenge adds up.  It’s important to take stock of where you’re at, where you want to be, and how you plan to get there—but it’s more important to act.  Build on good behaviors and go forward from there.

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