Have you ever worked at an organization and hated it? Or you loved it so much that you never wanted to leave? Heather Younger, best-selling author of “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” and Founder/CEO of Customer Fanatix, is an employee loyalty advocate.
Giving a voice to the voiceless
Younger’s journey began when she was a child, the result of an interracial and interfaith marriage, which in 1971 was barely legal. She felt voiceless, unimportant, and was the black sheep of the family.
Fast forward 15 years to law school, and Younger’s desire to advocate for people and be the voice of the voiceless took root. Rather than pushing papers in law libraries, she later decided to focus her efforts on being an external customer-facing advocate. Then, five years ago, Younger created an employee engagement council amid a merger of five companies where culture was going downhill. The higher-ups were excited about growth and new product roll outs, but they were not thinking about what was happening to the people inside the organization.
The result? People began to have a greater understanding of who each other was, the trust increased, and leadership began to see improvements in culture. It became clear to Younger that she was supposed to be the voice to organization leaders concerning what their people needed to make them happy, loyal, and engaged.
Meet employee needs first, then they can meet/exceed customer expectations
According to Younger, employees think if their needs are met first, they can meet or exceed customer expectations. 20 to 50% of employees are leaving organizations. What can you do to keep your employees engaged and loyal?
Law #1: The manager
Managers can make or break the employee experience. Whether it’s not giving credit where it’s due, over-leveraging your report, or lacking emotional intelligence, 90% of employee experience is driven by emotions, and leaders choose which emotions they give to the people they lead.
How do you respond when a candidate asks you, “What makes your team the team I should work for? Why shouldn’t I go up the street and work at XYZ company?” Younger recounted having this question asked in an interview she was participating in, and her fellow interviewer pointed to her. He said, “Before [Younger] came, we would see a manager twice a year and no one checked in on us. You would set up one on one meetings with me, and when there was an issue you jumped on it.” The things he referred to didn’t cost her a thing.
Law #2: Appreciation
People receive a dopamine boost when they give and receive recognition. 79% of employees cite a lack of appreciation as the reason why they are leaving. Gallup has a statistic which states that employees who have not been recognized in the last seven days feel like they have not been recognized.
Younger’s solution: crowd-sourcing recognition through TINYpulse. While it’s important to give recognize employees, appreciation from colleagues is also vital. TINYpulse research found the number one reason employees push themselves to go the extra mile at work is their coworkers. SHRM and Globoforce found that 57% of companies that use peer recognition see better employee engagement.
Nonetheless, the biggest boost an employee can get is from the front-line manager. Another fun option is to use the written word, such as thumbs up cards based on organization values.
Law #3: Listen
Silence is not a good thing in the employee world. When managing, listening is key. There are several ways to listen:
- Employee focus groups
- One on one meetings
- Team meetings
- Stay interviews
By using these methods for listening and being open with communication, you can not only be aware of any frustrations but also show employees that you want to take active steps to value their feedback. Listening isn’t just a human resources function – it’s also a management function. A great question to ask if you’ve built trust with your employee is, “What makes you jump out of bed to come to work every morning?”
First-time manager or just want to brush up on your leadership skills? Download the Beginner's Guide to Great Leadership for your road map to success.
Law #4: Growing and promoting employee talents
26% of employees feel like there are adequate opportunities in their organizations for professional growth, which means the other 74% are looking elsewhere. Why not do all the things you can do to leverage the strengths of people? Strategies include:
- Team ideation sessions on how to grow their talents
- Cross-functional ideation sessions
- Succession planning with employees
- Foster talent mobility
It costs too much money to train employees only to lose them. The ground is as fertile as you make it. Costs that factor into turnover include indirect costs such as knowledge lost when employees leave, time spent finding a replacement, and time spent training new employees. Eliminate employee turnover and promote growth by leveraging their strengths and talents.
Law #5: Deep connections
Executive leaders often become disconnected from what the front line is doing, and coworkers become siloed and end up not understanding what's happening between each other. Some employees don’t even know what their company’s vision and mission are about.
The organization’s leaders need to make sure the connections take place. According to statistics from TINYpulse and Gallup, employees remain with the organization primarily because of people they work with. If you don’t foster the connection, you’re inviting employees to leave.
According to TINYpulse, only 24% of employees still have strong connections with their co-workers. Find a way to promote that kind of connection, whether it’s through happy hours, video chats and in-person meetings for remote employees, or cubicles that allow for easy conversation.
Law #6: Teamwork
Teams are where true innovation takes place. A five- to six-person table with various talents (creative, visual, analytical, experience, new perspective) is dangerous and able to produce more.
One of the best ways to encourage teamwork is to ensure that everyone is invested in the company’s success. By gaining buy-in from employees, you’ll rest assured they’re all on the same page when it comes to goals and strategy. Most of us are more likely to take ownership of our own decisions rather than a decision that’s merely passed down to us.
Law #7: Pay
While pay is important, it’s not the only ingredient for loyalty. Younger says she would have never left her job if the manager had seen her strengths, not been threatened by them, and put them to use. When you think about employee recognition, if the individual doesn’t feel appreciated or valued, or their work isn’t fruitful, then money won’t matter.
Just 37% of engaged employees would consider leaving for a 20% raise or less, compared to 54% of actively disengaged employees. If you focus on engaging your people by listening to what you get from TINYpulse, one on ones, and stay interviews, and put these practices in place to listen, then you’ll engage your people.
Employee experience is driven by emotions
The best organizations make you feel a certain way, and that’s why you go above and beyond. Employees are people who have needs, and you can’t pass them aside. While engaging employees and creating long-term change doesn’t happen overnight, Younger invites you, manager or not, to know that you yield positive power over people that are looking to you for leadership.
Heather Younger spoke at this year's TINYcon 2018. To reserve your tickets to next year's TINYcon, and make sure that you're keeping up to date with the latest in employee engagement and company culture, get your early bird tickets now! If you're looking for more tips or info on improving company culture, you can also read our culture report.
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