Today, 27 October, marks my two-year anniversary at Benefex. Prior to that, I spent almost nine years heading up the HR function at the FMCG business Candyking.

What can I say? I’m a big fan of committed relationships 🙂

Reflecting back though on the last eleven years – two at Benefex so far, nine at Candyking – it got me to thinking, what exactly is it that drives employee loyalty? What is it that persuades an employee not to jump ship every 18 months and instead commit to a long term relationship with their employer?

Apathy versus loyalty

It’s perhaps important here that we differentiate between employee apathy and employee loyalty. Some employees have been known to stay with the same employer for years without ever being truly loyal. If an amazing offer landed in their laps tomorrow they’d be off into the sunset and you wouldn’t see them for dust. Those employees aren’t loyal, they’re apathetic. They’ve stayed with you for 20 years because there was no better alternative. Long service doesn’t equate to loyalty; long service plus a true advocacy for the business you work within equates to loyalty.

And what about engagement?

Equally, I don’t think that an engaged employee is automatically a loyal employee. Sure, engagement absolutely helps to drive loyalty – and you won’t be a loyal employee if you’re not engaged – but you also see employees who come into organisations, remain only for a relatively short period of time, are hugely engaged and focused during that time, deliver a huge amount for the business… and then move on. Employee loyalty moves beyond a simple sense of engagement, and to a level where you feel a genuine responsibility for the organisation within which you work.

The driving factors

When it comes to loyalty, clearly, each individual is different and what motivates one person to remain with an organisation could actively drive out another. However, I am fairly confident that there are certain factors which encourage all employees to stay within a business as opposed to looking elsewhere. Benefex and Candyking, despite being very different organisations within very different industries, have an awful lot in common when it comes to the employee experience that they offer.

Here, then, is my view of the top 5 things which drive that employee loyalty:

#1 A sense of purpose. If I’m going to be somewhere for the best part of ten years, and spend the majority of my waking hours during the working week there, then I need to feel that my work has a purpose. It’s important that I can understand how what I am doing personally is contributing to the bigger picture. Without that sense of purpose, I’m unlikely to stay the course.

#2 A fair reward. Part of that sense of purpose is feeling that we’re rewarded appropriately for the value that we’re delivering. However much we love our jobs, we all have bills to pay, and we need to feel that what we put into our roles is balanced by what we receive in return.

#3 Your team. Time and time again, when I read the exit interview feedback we receive at Benefex, the feature of working here which receives the highest score is the incredible team of people who make up our business.  People build relationships with people, and it is the human nature of those relationships which can often be one of the biggest factors driving employee loyalty.

#4 Enjoyment. If you work full time, you likely spend close to 50% of your waking hours during your working week carrying out your job. While the very nature of work means it’s perhaps unlikely to be your activity of choice in the same way that a hobby would be, it would be unusual for those employees demonstrating loyalty to not derive at least some sense of job satisfaction from the tasks that they are employed to do.

#5 A sense of pride. Benefex’s software and services are the best in the industry. (I can say this with confidence, having been a client of Benefex’s before I was an employee!) Likewise, Candyking were the European market leaders when it came to providing pick and mix confectionery. Loyal employees believe wholeheartedly in their business’ proposition, and are genuinely proud to put their hand up and say: ‘Yep, me? I work for Benefex.’