EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Your Best ROI Measure? Employee Loyalty

Decrease the likelihood your employees will leave, save money onboarding, and increase profitability--and receive notes like the one I got from Brian Johnson.
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I've been thinking a lot about the numbers behind our business. Like I recently read a statistic that said most people will work for something like nine different employers over their career. And according to the Corporate Leadership Council 2004 Employee Engagement Survey, every 10 percent improvement in commitment can decrease an employee's probability of departure by 9 percent.

Now there's some attrition that you can't do anything about. But there is substantially more that is directly related to the loyalty you're building in employees. According to the American Society of Training and Development, it costs $56,000 to train, onboard, and fully enable a new employee. So it's not a stretch to say that by building employee loyalty, not only do you create cohesion in an organization and reduce job-hopping, you also yield increased productivity and, in turn, profitability.

But the case for loyal culture doesn't stop at those numbers. I believe that by putting a priority on building a great company culture you can, in fact, not only generate amazing levels of loyalty among your team members, you can also reap rewards that are much more than financial. Consider this story about one of our Beryl family members, Brian Johnson.

Brian was a 55-year-old patient-experience advisor, a frontline employee whose job, among other duties, was to help patients find physicians to help them. He was also a loving husband, who with his wife had adopted two little girls from China. It was about a year ago that Brian was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. In the wake of the devastating news, Brian's co-workers rallied around him by mowing his lawn, cleaning and helping decorate his house for the holidays, and providing assistance for him and his family any way they could.  

Even though he wasn't feeling well and was required to remain in a wheelchair, Brian made the effort to attend the annual Beryl holiday party that year. It was at the party that Brian learned that the company, despite not hitting its financial targets for 2010, was still handing out a partial bonus to every employee. As you might expect, when I made that announcement, many people were excited to be getting something, and it was nice to hear from those who appreciated what Beryl was doing.

But Brian had a different opinion.

He wrote me an email in which, after first asking me how a pinched nerve in my neck was healing, he said that he had been talking to a bunch of his co-workers at the party and that they wanted to return their bonuses. "We are so lucky to have our jobs and are so appreciative for everything you have done for us," Brian wrote. "We want the company to keep the money so that it can keep growing."

Read that again.

"We are so lucky to have our jobs and are so appreciative for everything you have done for us. We want the company to keep the money so that it can keep growing." 

Here's Brian, who when faced with terminal cancer, asked me about my minor health issue and then told me to keep my money and put it into the business so we could continue to build a stronger company.

Now, trying to articulate what that note meant to me wouldn't do the note justice. It's just too powerful. But, I can ask you if your culture fosters a dedication from your employees similar to Brian's. If it doesn't, just how big of an impact is your company's culture having on your bottom line? On you as a person?  Where would your company be if its culture inspired 10 employees to become Brians?

If the numbers I shared at the beginning of this column don't convince you to create and inspire employee loyalty, I hope Brian's story did. Go out and inspire someone to be a Brian. It's good for business and even better for the soul.

Brian passed away on February 7, 2011, but every day his passion for his Beryl family is fondly experienced and remembered.

Last updated: Dec 28, 2011

PAUL SPIEGELMAN | Columnist | CEO of BerylHealth

Paul Spiegelman is the chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth. He also co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. You can read more at PaulSpiegelman.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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