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When was the last time you heard of someone who had worked his or her entire live for a single company? Chances are these instances involved members of an older generation, specifically people born in the earlier part of the century. So why has something that used to be fairly common in the past suddenly become far less common?
A very interesting article in Time magazine titled “Declining Employee Loyalty: A Casualty of the New Workplace” explored this. The article shared some interesting statistics. According to a MetLife survey, one in three employees planned to leave their jobs by the end of the year. Careerbuilder.com reported in 2011 that 76 percent of employees, “while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along.”
One challenge that the auto industry has always faced has been high turnover, especially in sales. The auto industry is not alone, however, as the article cites reports that the “average company loses anywhere from 20-50 percent of its employee base” each year. I’m fairly sure that dealerships, not unlike all businesses, would prefer to have a stable and loyal employee base. The problem isn’t that people are unwilling to be loyal, but rather that employees don’t feel that loyalty is reciprocated. Workers of the past were loyal to companies because companies were loyal to them. They knew that if they worked hard that they would have a job for life. Fast forward to the present where we find layoffs and benefit reductions more common, and employees changing jobs more frequently than any previous generation.
I know there are plenty of great dealerships to work for that have employees that have worked there most of their lives. At the same time, I hear stories of dealer principals who fired employees that worked for them for 25+ years, with little cause. The Time Magazine article poses an interesting analogy of whether the chicken or the egg comes first in describing employer-employee loyalty. Should employees prove their loyalty to a company before it gives them loyalty or vice versa? Whichever theory you subscribe to, the key is that loyalty is reciprocal. Employees have no reason to be loyal to a company if they don’t feel as if the company is loyal to them.
“If you’re looking for a silver bullet, it is the quality of the relationship between an employee and his or her manager that determines the overall level of employee engagement…” says James Harter, Head Scientist at Gallup. Businesses should stop thinking of employees as “short term assets” and start recognizing that the employees are part of the business. Employees who are satisfied with their jobs and engaged with their company typically perform better and stay longer. When you have engaged employees, your customer experience is typically much better, which translates into an increase in customer loyalty.
Having satisfied employees who are engaged with your business will bring you one step closer to developing loyal employees. But remember, it’s a two-way street.
Don’t expect loyalty if you’re not prepared to give it.