15 Ways to Improve Employee Loyalty

By Bob Phibbs

Having loyal employees is invaluable to any business. Not only does it reduce staff turnover, saving time and money on hiring and training, but it helps bring in more devoted customers. Loyal employees provide an unmatched shopping experience that keep customers coming back. Customers look forward to returning to a store when they’ve connected with a salesperson who truly cares about their job. They’ll even follow their favourite employee if they leave to work for a competitor company.

Generating employee loyalty starts at the top. While trust and loyalty are traits that cannot be trained nor taught, they can be encouraged by putting certain techniques into practice. Here are 15 ways to nurture loyalty so that employees can’t wait to come to work when they wake up in the morning.

Have a Winning Company Culture
Model respect for everyone from the janitor to the warehouse clerk to the salesperson on the showroom floor to vendors. When respect is given while managing employees, it is usually admired. An added bonus is loyal employees will spread the word and potential new hires will share similar values.

Guard the Doors
Don’t just hire whoever will work a shift once a week and expect them to sign on to company values. Make sure it is a cultural fit and not just one of convenience.

Find Out Employee Interests
Sit down with new hires and ask them about their favourite projects, what they’ve done that they love, when they felt most energized at their previous jobs and the passions they have outside work. This is one of the most useful ways to drive loyalty, especially when managing millennials who need a greater purpose.

Show Leadership
An employer can’t hang out in the back office and hope people do their jobs. Leading means being seen, creating goals, and promoting passions and opportunities. It also means correcting bad behaviours and letting people go.

Give Back
Younger employees are especially concerned and motivated by how a business makes their community a better place, not just about their paycheque. Whether through ongoing programs or pitching in at a non-profit for a day, a company’s mission has to be bigger than just pushing merchandise.

Communicate Clearly
Say no to management by e-mail. Take time to make sure everyone understands exactly what their job entails and how to properly execute it. As well, convey goals and set boundaries, both of which employees will appreciate. If uncomfortable leading and communicating, join an organization like Toastmasters to get some practice.

Review, Reward and Recognize
Employees want to know how they are doing, especially the younger generation who have grown up with constant reinforcement. Though not practical in many settings, if it’s never received, they won’t feel valued.

Pay More than What’s Expected
Retailers lose loyalty from employees because they often forget it’s about what the individual brings to the brand, not just the cost of their employment. People with greater work ethics generally won’t work for less than what they feel they are worth. Hiring at minimum wage creates a ‘them versus us’ dynamic that employees will pick up on. If wanting people to sell more, pay more. If not, other companies will try to poach them with a higher wage.

Offer Better Perks
The most common perks in retail are employee discounts. Find out what is actually meaningful to employees by simply asking them. It might be a company-sponsored retirement account, gym membership or free parking, for example.

Train the Team
No one comes to a new job fully formed. A culture of training means change and upgrades are a way of life. Investing in employees shows personal interest and gives them new tools that prevent them from becoming jaded.

Don’t Forget to Cross-Train
An employee development plan should include working other departments or jobs, even if only for a few days. This can help employees make connections between what they do, as well as how different departments support or work together. Pigeonholing someone to one job or department can result in boredom, prompting them to look for better opportunities to grow elsewhere.

Provide Proper Tools
Frustrated employees are the ones most likely to leave. Broken fixtures, old DOS-based point of sale systems and scanners that don’t work can all lead to an unhappy staff.

Have an Open Door Policy
People have a strong desire to be listened to and understood, and they shouldn’t have to make an appointment or wait for their once-a-year review to talk to their boss. Employers need to be generous with their time, try to truly understand their employees, encourage them and even offer career coaching. It’s always in a company’s best interests to never let someone become stagnant.

Stop Micromanaging
Micromanaging is one of the hardest things not to do as an entrepreneur because it means relinquishing control and there’s the thought that ‘no one can do it like you.’ But employees could do it better, if provided proper training, mentoring and, of course, the opportunity.

Keep a Wall
The best managers keep the pressure off their employees and remain positive. If sales are down, don’t share the worry and stress. That goes for personal lives, too. Maintain boundaries and let staff do their jobs.

Bob Phibbs is CEO of the Retail Doctor. He is a leading expert on brick-and-mortar retailers, an internationally recognized business strategist, customer service expert, sales coach, marketing mentor, author of three books and motivational business speaker.

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