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March 10, 2009

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Employers should worry more about loyalty--not getting it, but giving it.

"The importance of workplace loyalty is greatly underrated," said Diane Arthur, head of her own management consulting firm in Northport, N.Y., and author of The Employee Recruitment and Retention Handbook.

"Employers are saying, 'They don't have a sense of commitment to us, so we can't afford to have a sense of loyalty to them," said Arthur, who described owners who don't value their workers' loyalty as shortsighted.

But if employees feel loyal to a company, they're likely to be more productive and make an extra effort for the business. And they're likely to stay, keeping the business stable and allowing the owner to concentrate on sales and earnings, not hiring replacement staffers.

The problem, consultants tell the Associated Press, is that employers don't understand that in order to get loyalty from workers, a boss has to be loyal to them in the first place. "Loyalty should be initiated by the employer," Arthur said.

The weak economy isn't helping the situation, the AP notes.

"Employers for the most part believe that because we're in a tight economy, it's now an employer's marketplace and no longer an employee's marketplace," said Beverly Kaye, an employee retention consultant in Sherman Oaks, Calif. "That is not necessarily so--don't relax, don't think that you've got them and they've got no choice. Good, talented people will always have choices."

Leigh Branum, a vice president with Right Management Consultants in Overland Park, Kan., said some employers have the attitude that if workers aren't happy, "don't let the door hit you on the way out."

"They've got to get rid of that mindset," Branum says.

Just about every business owner can find ways to make employees feel better, and in turn, care more about the business. But a bigger paycheck doesn't necessarily have to be one of them.

What's more important to employees is a belief that they can grow and develop in their work, said Gary Topchik, managing partner of Silverstar Enterprises Inc., a Los Angeles-based management consultancy.

"If someone is on a career path and they have a good sense that they're moving up or the president or the owner of the company will take care of them and they have a good future, there's a strong sense of loyalty," said Topchik, who wrote the book, Managing Workplace Negativity.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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