What’s more, I recommended that make of car to more than one friend and colleague. I arranged introductions to my salesman. I even went along on a test drive once, praising the performance from the back seat. I was a one-man evangelist for the company, all unpaid. I talked it up because I believed in the car and the feeling it provided.
That, my friends, is loyalty. And it’s priceless.
I almost hate to tell the rest of the story, but I will. Eventually, the door locks failed. The engine locked. The dashboard kept falling down. The ride stopped being fun. By the end, my mechanic looked at me like a member of his family. (I think I paid for one of his kids to go to college.) One Christmas Eve the car died while we were doing some last-minute shopping. I told the tow truck to drive it to the dealership, and that was the last I saw of the car and the last time I drove the brand.
Of course, you know how it ended… goodbye sleek and sporty lemon, hello brand-new brand. My loyalty didn’t fail as much as I was driven (pun intended) to leave loyalty on the curbside.
So, how much is loyalty worth to your organization? Whether you make widgets or provide expert services, your business is built on the concept. You need loyal customers, of course, but you also need loyal employees. We’ve all seen the high price of turnover, and while recession can slow the seepage, it hasn’t stopped altogether. The body may have several pints of blood, but you still don’t want to lose a drop, right? Same goes for your business.
I’ve been pondering loyalty since seeing “The Walker Loyalty Report: Loyalty and Ethics in the Workplace,” released last September by Walker Information. I’m going to ignore the ethics part of the equation for now, as that could be a separate topic for many, many columns. But the loyalty info jumped out at me, especially this: Only three in 10 U.S. employees are truly loyal to their employers. What’s more, about one-third have one foot already out the door, even as we speak.
Granted we’re not talking mass exodus here, but can you imagine suddenly losing a third of your staff? It’s unlikely, but this employee survey showed that only 45 percent of respondents feel their organization is interested in developing their skills for long-term careers. What’s more, that figure hasn’t changed since 2001.
Money’s not the answer, the report concludes. Disloyalty can occur at all salary ranges. The report indicated that employee loyalty is fueled in two ways—showing care and concern for the workforce and providing opportunities for growth and career development.
That’s where you come in. You could do worse than to look over your own retention rates and see how you, as chief learning officer, can turn the tide. Remember that a little good will goes a long way, and education is the ultimate win-win, advantageous for the employee and the employer.
“Employees are assets with feet,” said Marc Drizin, Walker Information’s VP and loyalty specialist. “They’re the only resource companies have that make a conscious decision to return the next day. Without a concerted effort by employers to increase the number of truly loyal employees, those assets may disappear—along with the profit margin.”
That’s a good thought for a New Year. Like my sliding dashboard, disloyalty is a problem just waiting to cause injury. Are you doing what you can to protect your company?
Editor in Chief