Staff loyalty: just how much should you expect?

staff loyaltyCountless articles and papers will tell you that your employees are the lifeblood of your organisation. If your employees aren’t happy or are disengaged it can cost your organisation money: poor customer service, inefficient processes, employee errors and increasing recruitment and induction costs.

On the other hand when employees are happy and motivated they deliver a better service, productivity rises, the quality of the work improves, creativity and innovation increases, and customers are more satisfied. When customers are happy and satisfied you get repeat business, referrals and recommendations.

Happy, engaged and motivated employees are also loyal employees.

Staff loyalty is a powerful concept, but it’s meaning has changed over the years. It’s no longer tied to the concept of a ‘job for life’. And even just a couple of decades ago you could almost guarantee that younger employees would stay for several years whilst older workers would stay even longer.


Question: How much staff loyalty should you expect nowadays?

Answer: None!

Staff loyalty needs to be earned by employers rather than be expected. The average time spent at a single US organisation is 4.6 years, and although figures for the UK are hard to come by, staying with a single organisation for three to five years is normal. These days loyalty to an employer isn’t as important to employees as it once was.

Given that employees are critical to your organisation you have a plan in place to ensure that they are engaged don’t you? If you don’t, then you’re in the majority. Many employers do just enough to ensure their employees don’t leave; they offer just enough employee benefits, just enough training and just enough salary.


Is this the right way to approach employee loyalty?

show employees you careTo encourage staff to be loyal to your organisation you need to look after them: you need to care about them, and this means demonstrating loyalty to your individual employees.

Cuts in staff numbers and employee benefits send a message to employees that the risks the company are taking are being borne by employees rather than the organisation, and the employees end up feeling that the organisation they work for only cares about the numbers and not them as an individual.


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So how can you show you care?

Improving staff loyalty means looking out for your employees, and here are some examples of things you can do:

  • Pay attention to their career path and aspirations
  • Offer the right employee benefits for your workforce demographics
  • Be aware of employees’ significant events outside of work as well as inside – such as birthdays, anniversaries or graduations and acknowledge them
  • Recognise the effort and contribution your employees make with a recognition scheme


But perhaps the silver bullet when it comes to employee loyalty is the relationship between the manager and the employee, and this means recruiting the right people who are great managers.

The late Harvard professor and American philosopher Josiah Royce explained that;

Loyalty requires a cause, a mission or purpose greater than the individual.

In his work, ‘the Philosophy of Loyalty’ he said, each of us wants to be part of something outside us.

Ensuring employees are aware of the organisation’s vision and goals and how they contribute to its success should be a critical part of a manager’s day-to-day role.


If you have your employees’ best interests at heart, then those actions will be reciprocated. Employees won’t be loyal to an organisation that isn’t loyal to them. Staff loyalty may not be what it once was but staff loyalty isn’t dead if you show you care.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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