Q As an employer I am so frustrated by the lack of employee loyalty that I don't even know if my people are worth training and motivating. Everyone is looking for the better deal all the time. Maybe I should just focus on my customers and not put my resources into my employees.
A Are workers putting up with tough work situations just until the economy starts to recover and then — boom! — they're going to bolt to greener pastures? Maybe.
Employers are always tempted to be distracted from the best interests of their employees. They have to focus on their customers, and they have to try to survive their own cutthroat world. Neglecting employees’ needs is a constant temptation for managers — and it's a prescription for problems. Besides, it's a false dilemma to choose between customers and employees. Both need to be happy to remain loyal.
What builds staff loyalty? For starters, a commitment by management to support, communicate and lead. Also vital is creating and maintaining a culture in which workers feel encouraged to grow professionally and personally. These are the things people are looking for. Move away from those basic values, and you can expect more employee exits.
The problem is that these values are not easily pieced together unless there is a fundamental commitment to maintain an environment where all stake-holders — customers, employees and employers — have the tools and the support they need to grow.
Revisit Pope John Paul II's explications on the dignity of man and the dignity of work. He's as good a guide as you'll find when it comes to laying a foundation in which the commitment to building loyalty is governing rather than incidental. Make sure your work-place isn't just a place to earn a buck — but an environment in which workers can “realize their humanity more fully in every respect” (Pope John Paul II: On Human Work ).
Art Bennett is director of Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Services in Vienna, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland.