Experts are now confirming a pandemic-induced decrease in loyalty to an organization. Many workers have experienced some form of loss, whether it be of loved ones, freedom, or career, causing a phase of mass individual reflection, transformation and re-prioritization. For the first time, during the pandemic many people spent more time with their families than at work, shifting allegiances and mindsets away from defining themselves as much through their work.

Our industry’s survival now relies on shifting attention toward a critical issue – employee retention. We need to inspire the loyalty of our employees with the same strategic vigour as we do for our guests so they stay, and we have a workforce that will sustain our industry into the future.

A loyalty crossroads
The Great Resignation, where millions have left their jobs, has fundamentally shifted the power dynamics away from employers and toward workers. Recent events have sent many on a quest to prioritize purpose and meaning in their work. Across industries, people want work that resonates and allows flexibility for all parts of life. This is good news for our deeply purposeful industry, where meaning is uniquely found in the delivery of transformational experiences and lasting connections. Success in inspiring loyalty lies in highlighting purpose as a cornerstone of culture and reinforcing it though the employee experience.

Show loyalty first
Loyalty is connection. It takes time to build because it happens only once trust is established. It’s important for leaders to realize that the key to building loyalty is to show loyalty first – show your employees you will support them and help them be their best. I recently heard the stories of two friends who worked at different companies. Both had missed a day of work for illness and posted their employer’s reactions on social media. One employee received a ranting email from their boss for the absence. The other received a get-well-soon card from the team. This exemplifies that with each interaction, leaders have an opportunity to either grow or break loyalty.

Notice Waning Loyalty
Have you ever heard the saying “employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses?” A Gallup poll of more than one million U.S. workers proved it to be true. The number-1 reason people quit is a bad boss. Great leaders inspire loyalty by making certain their employees feel heard. They prioritize listening, responding and actioning feedback as the most critical part of their job. When employees are frustrated or they don’t have the same spark for their work, these leaders seek to understand by asking two powerful loyalty-building questions – “is everything okay” and “how can I help you.”

Money isn’t everything
Although competitive base wages are a gatekeeper of retention, a recent PwC survey found that employees increasingly want to be compensated for their work, not just with money, but with flexibility. Younger workers are more likely than older employees to accept smaller pay increases in place of non-monetary benefits such as mental-health benefits, unlimited sick time and flexible hours.

Inspiring loyalty requires leadership to remain progressive, providing a creative mix of offerings that are meaningful and meet a diverse and changing set of employee expectations.

By Cayley Dow – Cayley Dow is the founder and CEO of Thrivity Inc., a human-resources consulting and coaching firm that helps service-oriented businesses to thrive in the ever-evolving world of work.


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