Last Saturday, while working with the board of directors of a very distinguished hospital inPuerto Ricoa prominent physician posed to us the following question: Under what circumstances do people quit and under what circumstances do people commit to change existing organizational conditions. The question was very well taken and this was part of our response. Both exit and voicing need to be understood against the backdrop of loyalty which has a complex relationship to both of these conditions. All employees inevitably experience some degrees of dissatisfaction (one can argue that such a state is fairly common within contemporary organizations). To the extent that there is opportunity for voicing and channeling such a condition, paradoxically the organization is creating the space for enhancing identification and loyalty as employees` mental states. However, if voicing and conflict is suppress, exit or turnover will occur. In the case that there are not outside opportunities for particular employees they will probably stay in the organization but morale will go down and loyalty will be weaken. The point is that loyalty adheres in what the organization is doing for the individual and more specifically in the mechanisms of institutional name or brand, personal identification and morale as the collective satisfaction of the members about the organization. Loyalty is the positive affective orientation towards membership.
On the other hand, the link between customer satisfaction and employee loyalty has been fairly well publicized over the past years, yet it`s one that some companies still neglect. One way to boost employee loyalty is to foster entrepreneurial thinking in the workplace. By doing so, employees feel they are a vibrant part of the company`s evolution, rather than a mechanical part of the organization. The goal should be to build a workforce which thinks innovatively and can respond to customers proactively, enthusiastically and creatively.
A couple of suggestions are in order. Allow your staff to spend more time on tasks that contribute to the company`s success but which are also motivating to the individual employee. Also promote an atmosphere of open communication. While it is very important for managers to share with employees the company`s vision and how they can contribute to it, the dialogue must be two-way. It is taking time to sit down and discuss what would make people feel more loyal to the institution without using a specific agenda, just listening.
Copyright 1999 QBS, Inc.