As a Talent Retention Strategist, my job is to help companies keep their employees. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, that’s a lot harder than it used to be. Unnecessary turnover is rampant and most businesses are struggling to keep new hires for more than a year or two.   I’m confident that one of the main issues is the false assumption that employees start off with a general trust in the company that just hired them. Most companies make an effort to maintain employee loyalty, but really they should be striving to earn it from day one… and never stop. 

Employees are Loyal to People They Trust

Employees are loyal – they are loyal to the people and things that they trust: their family, their friends, and their own interests.  But when they walk into a new environment, working with all new people, they are going to start off with their guard up. Trust is something that’s going to be developed over time. The goal of the company should be to start earning that trust as quickly as possible. 

How Do I Develop Trust with Employees?

One of the fastest ways to develop trust is transparency.  This means being open and honest about things that are happening in the organization. In other words, answer the WHY questions.  Why do we do things this way?  Why do we have these policies?  Why are these changes being made?  Of course, there are limits on what can be shared, but the more your staff knows, the more they’ll feel a part of the group.    Remember when you were a teenager? Whatever “group” you were in, being included was important.  You saw your group as your friends, your confidants. They had your back.  You trusted them and they trusted you.  As adults, it’s the same in the work world.  We want to know that we are a trusted, valued member of the team.   

How Do I Become More Transparent?

Being transparent in today’s society will mean more than just sending out a company newsletter.  We live in a world where most people post “status updates” multiple times a day on social media, so your monthly periodical is hardly going to cut it. Also remember that nowadays, people are sharing so much information that it’s almost an expected step in building relationships. And conversely, if the higher-ups aren’t communicating with the workforce, it will be interpreted negatively and loyalty will be all the harder to develop. 

Another way you can gain trust is by having leadership be personally transparent. Executives and managers often seem inaccessible to lower-level staff. But if leadership made an effort to spend time with and get to know their people better, it can have a huge impact on employee loyalty and retention.  This doesn’t mean they have to be best friends with every employee.  But it does mean they should take an interest in who they are and what makes them tick. If possible, supervisors should meet with their staff to share their own personal “WHY” and give their staff the opportunity to tell theirs. Why did they choose this company? Why do they like this line of work? This back and forth tells your staff you value who they are as individuals not just what they can do for you.  When they know you value them, they are more likely to trust you.   

Once they trust their leaders, employees are more likely to stay long-term and even fight through the difficult times because now they feel a loyalty to them. It’s not just an organization they think about, now they have specific people they care about and don’t want to let down. We often hear that a good leader takes care of his people.  I say that people will take care of good leaders – and that, in turn, takes care of good companies.   

My grandfather worked many years for Bechtel.  He was loyal to Bechtel, not because of the company or its benefits, but because of the people he worked with and the relationships he built. As his skills grew over the years, so did his relationships with both the leadership and his co-workers. So when his skillset and experience were mature enough that many other companies tried to hire him away, he didn’t go  Those relationships were valuable to him and were what led him to be loyal to his friends, his team and his company.   

Take Time to Answer WHY

Transparency means taking the time to answer the WHY – both personally and corporately. Companies need to open up about more than just their mission statement – get specific about current goals, challenges and WHY any corporate changes are being considered. Those in leadership need to pursue intentional interaction with their staff – opening up about their personal WHY and allowing employees to share their own stories too.    Taking this “transparency initiative” will encourage staff to do the same and that back and forth is how an environment of loyalty is created. Understanding the WHY from all parties – corporate, management, and staff – enables a workforce to feel connected and fosters that much sought-after trust in the company moving forward. 

For more information on how to implement these principles, contact us at [email protected].  About the Author: Leah Brown is a Talent Retention Strategist at Crescendo Strategies, a firm focused on reducing unnecessary employee turnover for clients across the country. Our workshops have helped organizations learn critically-important trends and innovative best practices for improving retention.    

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