By Tina Viney

Loyalty is a beautiful quality that is critically important and essential to productivity as well as successful relationships, whether these are your staff, your clients, or family and friends. Without loyalty, you cannot sustain longevity in any meaningful relationship.

Loyalty is an important component of any business. Not only do you need loyal employees who care about your business, but you also need loyal clients to keep your business thriving into the future. On a more personal level, loyalty stands for commitment and dedication to another allowing respect and trust to flourish. Loyalty, therefore, is important in both business and our personal lives.

What is the true meaning of loyalty?

Loyalty can be defined as the state or quality of being faithful or committed to an individual or to a cause as a matter of consistent obligation because we trust or believe in either the individual or the cause. 

Experiencing loyalty allows us to feel supported and validated.  It reinforces our trust in human nature and gives us confidence allowing us to feel appreciated.

In terms of mental health, studies confirm that feeling accepted through loyal relationships is critical to our wellbeing. The notion that we should just be stoic and don’t need one another is simply mythology. 

However, loyalty must never be blind or submissive just to be accepted. Such loyalty is unsound and can lead to co-dependency and sometimes even abuse from the other party. Being loyal is being devoted and vulnerable, but never naive. Loyalty should always be based on honesty and integrity in that way it will benefit others without betraying yourself.

What challenges loyalty?

The ruthlessness of modern life often means that we are thrust into an inhospitable environment, where we may find that friendship is short-lived and is just a construct of temporary relations that will quickly move on when the battle rages and the going gets tough.

In the age of social media, friendships that are held together with just hyperlinks are hardly the stuff of fidelity – “I will friend you if you friend me,” but what is the ultimate objective, and do these connections lead to real, meaningful and long-lasting loyalty?

So, let’s take a closer look at how loyalty or the lack of it can impact our life and business.

Loyalty amongst staff

Every business owner relies on their staff to support them by being loyal to the standard and values of the business, but also standing with their employer to achieve the business’s goals and objectives that are ultimately essential for the survival and growth of the business.  However, how many business owners can truly say that their staff care deeply and are loyal to them and their business?

According to a recent study, 81 percent of workers are willing to leave their current position if another opportunity arises. Clearly, employee loyalty is suffering. This is a staggering statistic that employers cannot ignore, especially considering the average cost-per-hire is now considered over $4,000 requiring time and money to onboard a new staff member. 

Part of the reason that staff may leave you – even if all appears to be going smoothly, is because of the ultimate consideration of what’s in it for them?  If they don’t feel engaged, or that they are not growing professionally and personally, they will most likely start to feel less and less connected to their work environment and their intentions to remain loyal will slowly waiver.

Fostering employee loyalty among your workers can boost retention and productivity. But it is not something that instantly happens, it needs to be intentionally programmed and nurtured. The latest Gallup poll suggests that nearly 70 percent of all employees do not feel engaged in the workplace. Unfortunately, this level of disengagement can lead to high turnover rates. Experts recommend that business owners and managers should consistently seek ways to connect with their team on a daily basis, as well as nurture them to grow their skills. In that way, your staff will feel a greater sense of belonging to the business and this will foster loyalty. Key considerations include strategies that help your staff feel valued, appreciated, programs to grow and expand their skill-sets, as well as a recognition and rewards program. 

There is a saying that for a business to thrive the manager will need to work on the business and not just in it. Building a work environment where staff feels rewarded and appreciated requires a strategic management plan that is focused on helping staff grow their skills and knowledge and identifying and rewarding their performance. 

How to foster loyal clients

What about building loyalty with your clients?  This is so important to a business’s survival as a successful business is not based on a revolving door of clients coming and leaving to go elsewhere, but more importantly, based on programs that support client engagement and appreciation as these ultimately lead to client loyalty.

‘Client loyalty’ has taken on new meaning in the wake of the new normal. As we know, client loyalty is the act of choosing one company’s products and services consistently over their competitors. When a client is loyal to one company, they aren’t easily swayed by price or availability. They would rather pay more and ensure the same quality service and product they know and love. At a time when consumers are more willing to switch brands or try alternatives, how can brands ensure customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty? 

Once again, a strategic management plan should be designed to learn as much as possible about the profile, interests, values, and expectations of their clients.  The more you understand the makeup of your clients the more efficient you will be in meeting their needs and providing them with solutions that they will value, appreciate and remain loyal to, as they continue to seek to gain the benefit from the experience, products and services you provide them.

Who should you not Trust?

While it is important to foster, appreciate and extend loyalty to others it is equally important that we are prudent with whom we trust. So, who should you never trust? Those who betray guiltlessly, out of habit or because of petty reasons. To cover their betrayals, these people fall into a web of lies and slander that they cannot get out of and that shows who they really are.

If someone betrays one of his friends or a member of his team, he will certainly betray all others in due time. And watch out, you might be next!

It is important to be loyal to the past. There is no use in denying or hiding from it and, contrary to popular belief, attempting to do so usually only makes our efforts to hide from it that much more evident. Bad-mouthing former bosses, former companies, or collaborators only shows a latent disloyalty and alerts others to certain future betrayal. This is an issue that you must watch out for when hiring!

What is the virtue of loyalty?

Loyalty demands integrity and consistency. You can’t be loyal, for instance, in business, to your partners, your boss, or your company and not be loyal to your family or your friends, and vice versa. Trust is earned, respect is given but loyalty is demonstrated. 

The betrayal of any of these is the loss of all three.

This is because loyalty is at its core a behavioral characteristic, a virtue, that is based on ethics and morals. It is a choice we make based on what we value most in life whether it is a person or a cause. It requires tenacity and commitment and sometimes it requires that we overlook petty differences and focus on the greater good as our objective. People often give up too quickly on others when encountering human frailty.

Tenacity is a quality that should not just be directed at projects, but also in sustaining and growing relationships with other human beings allowing them to mature through the modelling of our honourable behaviour.

At the end of the day, I am sure you would agree that the people who believed in us and stood loyally by our side – those we hold close to our heart have been the most influential in shaping who we are and what we value the most in our life.