I recently had the opportunity to sit down with author Lee Caraher to discuss her book “The Boomerang Principle – Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees,” and I loved what she shared with me on building company culture. Today, I want to pass along some pearls of wisdom from that conversation.
I’m certain most people reading this blog post have decided to change jobs at some point. Whether it’s for more opportunity, growth potential, life change, career advancement, or something else entirely, job changes are more commonplace than they’ve ever been.
Have you ever been met with a “you’re dead to me” mentality by an employer? I certainly have. It’s unfortunate, but it happens every day. It can be easy to respond this way, but it should be avoided at all costs. It may feel good in the moment, but this “you’re dead to me” mentality is an antiquated way of thinking and does not serve you or your business long term.
Lee asserts that you can gain a strategic advantage over your competitors by building a culture of employee loyalty. We, as employers, must get it out of our heads that when we hire someone, our company is their final destination in their career.
The bottom line is that the business environment has changed, and people are going to leave you – it’s just the nature of the times we live in now. That’s why this concept of building a culture of employee loyalty is so critical.
Lifetime loyalty means that regardless of their tenure or whether you’re currently paying them, they stay with you as an advocate, referrer, perhaps they become your client, etc.
This also means you allow and encourage former employees to return, which, in turn, stops them from leaving in the first place. As Lee told me, “When you focus on creating a culture of return, you create a culture of staying”.
Let’s look at 2 scenarios to drive the point home.
As an employer, you are transactional. You have not built a high-performance culture and are not invested in your employees. You are not aware of your employees’ needs or career/personal goals.
One of your top performers decides to leave for an opportunity that is better aligned with their career and gives their two week’s notice. And how do you respond? By saying “thank you for your service, but you can just pack your things up and leave.”
Your mindset is that if the employee doesn’t want to work for your company, then they are dead to you. The employee leaves feeling dejected and with a bad taste in their mouth. After all, they were a key contributor and gave several years to you and your company.
How likely will they be to advocate for your company in this scenario? How likely will they consider coming back to your company in 5 years when they have a breadth of additional knowledge to bring to the table? How likely will they be to refer talented people to you?
They won’t. You and your company just lost out on several levels.
As an employer, you have built a high-performance company culture and are invested and in-tune with your employees’ needs and career goals and you work with them create a path for them. You attract high performers. That being said, you have a key employee decide to make a career change.
You saw this coming to some degree because you know this employee well and understand that they have topped out in their role and may be looking for additional challenges or growth that your company can’t offer at the time. This employee knows they are not serving you to the extent they could be because they are no longer being challenged and that they are becoming a bit disengaged.
They know it’s best for them and for the company that they make a change. They give their notice and it’s met with congratulations and supportive discussion around their future. They leave feeling supported and very positive about the experience. They know they have someone rooting for them through the next phase of their career path.
How likely will they be to advocate for your company in THIS scenario? How likely will they consider coming back to your company in 5 years when they have a breadth of additional knowledge to bring to the table? How likely are they to become a customer in the future? How likely will they be to refer great talent to you?
Bottom line, you have a fan for life in this scenario. You also just sent a message to your entire team about who you are as a company which goes on to further support and build a culture of loyalty.
Just remember, everyone who passes through your company is an opportunity for business in some way, shape or form (i.e. recruiting, referring, client acquisition, etc.). You are not their destination; you are part of their journey.
Your alumni group (those that have worked for you in the past) is one of your most valuable assets. You can see why companies that understand and live this concept have the competitive edge and strategic advantage over those who don’t.
So the next time you have a key employee leave, don’t give into any negative feelings that you might have in the moment. Remember, business is built on great relationships, and great relationships are accomplished by building bridges, not tearing them down.
Building company culture based on loyalty will help you accomplish that.