Building a more loyal team can impact everything from your company culture to your bottom line. But how you effectively grow and foster a loyal team requires focus, strong leadership skills, and swift action. According to Gallup Research, only 35% of U.S. managers are actually engaged in their jobs, and 14% are actively disengaged. That trickle-down effect can plummet productivity at your business. In fact, Gallup found that only 30% of U.S. workers are actually engaged in their own jobs.
The longer you push off loyal team building, the higher your turnover and expenses in training new employees will be. You'll also find the company culture will tank and the revolving door of employees won't slow down. Fortunately, there are effective ways you can turn around the odds and start building an engaged, loyal team to kick off 2016 right. Here's how to get started.
Focus on training
Employees need more than a user manual, HR meetings, and weekly check-ins to grow into stand-out players in your business. Employees need input and more resources to succeed at their jobs. Invest heavily in training to show your commitment to their success, while offering a direct path to confidence building. Your employees can't commit and focus on their own jobs, let alone the fate of your business, without knowing how to thrive at their jobs. Failure to cultivate confidence leads to stress, burnout, and doing the bare minimum with new responsibilities.
Treat employees like guests
Famed restaurateur and author Steve DiFillippo treats both his customers and his employees like guests. When employees come to work through the back door and get ready to tackle their shift, his policy is to treat them like valued guests. His restaurants stock their kitchens with food for the employees, and they make a point to eat together. DiFillippo joins them whenever he's in the restaurant, and recognizes that happy, well-fed employees who feel valued will extend that same intimate customer service and warmth to their nightly patrons.
Employees don't need to be coddled to become a loyal part of your team, but they should know why they are valued. Monetary incentives are a useful tool for employee retention, but they aren't necessarily the most important thing to an employee. Reward your employees' performance with public acknowledgements, whether through the company newsletter or a shout-out at a meeting. Offer them perks like an extra day off, their choice of what project to work on next, or an invitation to a one-on-one brainstorming session with you. Remember to be quick to share credit where credit is due, and make your employees feel like an integral part of the team. They'll pay you back with loyal work and an eager attitude.
Honor personal time
Respect the fact that your employees have lives outside of the company with other people who depend on them. Don't put them in the position of having to choose between their families and their jobs without suffering the consequences of disengagement and an uptick in absences. Repeatedly asking employees to stay late with no notice, asking them to give up weekends in favor of work, contacting them at all hours of the day and night, and grumbling over breaks won't win you any loyalty.
Let your employees know you respect their time, but also let them know what you expect in return. That could mean wrapping up a project at home from time to time, or trusting that the work will get done without missing a deadline. The more you show that you trust and honor your employees' decisions and personal time, the more they'll rise to your expectations to maintain that respect and freedom.
Keep communication wide open
Omaha Steaks earned a reputation for being a fantastic place to work with legions of loyal employees--some have been there for generations. But it's not the free food and tons of perks that keep their employees happily working. Fifth-generation owner Todd Simon shared that nepotism isn't necessarily a bad thing at the company: Leadership encourages families of employees to come on board and work together as one cohesive unit.
Omaha Steaks also focuses on open communication, and plans annual meetings to brainstorm new ideas and include employees in the process. The combination of a close-knit team and transparent, engaged communication across all levels of the company creates a culture of loyalty.
One of Google's most infamous management policies was implementing a 20% time policy. The idea was employees should spend 20% of their time focusing on whatever they think will help the company the most. It turns out that policy is more of a romanticized ideal than something literal, and has waned over time, but the inspiration is still an infamous part of their company culture.
Use the social proof Google provided us, and emulate their success with the 20% time policy. Give your employees autonomy to work on projects that excite them and drive them towards a productive goal. If needed, create some boundaries on what those projects should include and how many hours can be spent on them each month. But once you've established how your policy works, let your employees figure out how to best use their talents and time instead of micromanaging their progress.
There's no one way to build a loyal team for 2016. But there is one constant that holds true no matter what type of business you're in: To build a loyal team, you need to lead by example. So, if you want engaged, trustworthy employees who show up and are ready to contribute, you're the first person who should exude those qualities and show them how to shine.
What about you? How are you building a more loyal team in 2016? Let me know by leaving a comment below.