10/31/2016 09:44 EDT | Updated 10/31/2016 09:44 EDT

Your Company Must Focus On Fostering Loyalty

Teamwork concept. Group of women joining hands. Low angle view, white background.
Izabela Habur via Getty Images
Teamwork concept. Group of women joining hands. Low angle view, white background.

Loyalty is quite a buzzword around the workplace these days. Employers are continually seeking those committed individuals who want to learn and grow within a company and who see themselves staying in the same place (ideally in a new position, or two) for a lengthy period of time.

And loyalty is surely important, even from an employee perspective. As people in society, we're always in search of loyalty in our personal relationships and friendships and most of us have even grown to expect the benefits of loyalty as consumers or clients. In the workplace, however, loyalty is a two-way street. Companies may expect employees to be loyal, but it's their responsibility to take steps to foster that loyalty.

Rendition of the definition

When we're talking about loyalty, it might be helpful to take a step back and really think about what it means. For starters, what does loyalty even stand for if so many people value it in their lives? Does it come with an official agreement, or do people just use it as they please? Is it different in each relationship and situation we participate in? I guess it all really depends.

Interestingly enough, a recent Monster Canada survey found that although the majority of Canadians are willing to stand by loyalty in the workplace, they have different definitions and expectations of the word. One of the most interesting statistics is three-quarters of Canadians believe loyalty is helpful for their career. But on the flip side, the survey found four-in-10 have had at least four employees since graduation. So why the slight mismatch?

An offer you can't refuse

A brief history of the working world helps paint a picture. As some may recall, jobs used to come paired with a pension plan, giving a reason for employees to commit to one employer for the length of their career. When Gen Xers started entering the workforce in the 1980s and 90s, there was a shift in what employers were offering potential employees. Although pensions were still standard in some industries, they were less certain in others. This led to employees eventually seeking more from their employer, or even a new one.

The survey results reflect this time in recent history as 20 per cent of Canadians aged 55 years and older reported only having one-to-two employers. At the time, price, security and opportunity were enough to keep employees staying still instead of going.

Fading fidelity

Fast-forward to today and things are different. There are varied reasons why an employee might stick around for the long haul. For instance, training and development offerings may keep people motivated and oftentimes can fuel the will to stay longer. And if employees can't find exactly what they're looking for, they don't have as much hesitation to look elsewhere.

The current working world has also established this culture of less commitment and more opportunity. Just look at moonlighting, contract work, outsourcing and even the rise of technology. They are all ways in which services are provided faster and arguably with less loyalty.

The recent survey results also found that there is a time warranty on loyalty in the workplace. More than half of millennials believe that the right length of time at one employer is six years or less. This gives time for growth and opportunity that all employees are usually after. Then how do employers go about making that last longer?

Challenge accepted

Employers have the interesting challenge of keeping staff engaged and empowered... and for a long time running. Being creative, resourceful and staying ahead of the industry are important options to consider for fostering loyalty amongst staff.

As people have been taught that loyalty generally comes with reward, it's important for employers to keep this in mind when planning for company activities and initiatives. Celebrate the little moments like an employee's first-year anniversary with your company just as much as the big ones like a company milestone.

Moving with the times instead of staying behind them allows companies to grow with their staff and open a dialogue on how needs and wants can be met. If you want to build loyalty, show your employees that you're as invested in them as they are in your company. If you think about what you have to offer that can make their working experience more valuable, you can build the goodwill that translates into ongoing loyalty.

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