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Swipe Right or Stay Put: Building a Loyal Workforce in the Digital Age

You and I both know that retaining employees is essential to the success of your organization. Turnover is expensive and can cost anywhere from “one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.” That means losing an employee who makes $50,000 could cost you anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000!

But for your employees, the “quick apply” button on job boards makes finding new opportunities as easy as swiping right on a dating app. One click and they’re matched with a potential employer. So it’s getting harder and harder to keep employees from swiping left and right, and bouncing from one job to another.

And yet, loyal, happy employees DO exist! We wanted to explore what actually works when building employee loyalty, so we interviewed a few of WSI’s team members to get the inside scoop. Here’s what we found: 

It’s All About Community 

The number one trend we heard is that community matters. This reflects the data that shows that nurturing a sense of belonging in your workplace can reduce turnover by up to 50%. Keeping employees happy is no longer just about the paycheck but about finding a community of like-minded people who offer support, understanding, and a sense of connection. 

When asked what keeps her at WSI, our senior account manager Taylor Johnson said, “Even though you can have some bad days, the people I work with here really combat that. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed so long — I truly enjoy the people that I work with, and even though we all sometimes have bad days, I love that we can all come together and support each other. I feel seen and heard here.”

When employees feel seen and heard, they’re more likely to stay for the long haul, even through the tough times. 

It’s The Organization’s Job to Facilitate that Community 

We’re proud of the community we’ve built at WSI. But we don’t take for granted that everyone will immediately feel welcomed, heard, and seen. We know how important it is to build structures that nurture this connection. 

One way we do that is by structuring time into the day for employees to stop working and start socializing. Each branch has a bar, and everyone is welcome to “open the bar” at the end of the day to reconnect and decompress. Taylor mentioned that “It seems easy, and it seems normal that we spend time bonding with our team, but it’s actually a big deal.” 

Michaela Scholte, senior account manager at our Kalamazoo branch, also mentioned that “if there’s something to celebrate, like if someone had a great meeting with a client, we always celebrate those wins and take time as a team to hang out… We have leadership that promotes and values this time as opposed to hindering us from taking time to hang out.” 

Feeling Valued and Appreciated is Key

Building a solid sense of community in the workplace takes more than just hiring great people and encouraging bonding time. It requires ongoing effort to ensure that your employees feel valued and appreciated for the hard work they put in day after day. 

Our assistant branch manager Alivia Jesko reflected, “I feel very appreciated every day. I feel valued. And I feel that from the top down. Nowadays, what keeps someone is how they feel they’re treated every day. And I feel very valued here.” 

It’s critical to prioritize recognition and make it a part of your daily culture. By doing so, you’ll not only strengthen your workplace community but also foster a more positive and productive work environment. 

Fortify Your Team’s Bond by Leading with Values 

Alivia went on to say that “[WSI] does a lot. Like we just did Warm Detroit, and we do other volunteering and donation drives.” For her, being part of efforts that extend beyond the scope of her day-to-day responsibilities helps her see the alignment between her personal values and the company’s values. 

And Alivia’s not alone. In fact, 71% of employees say that it’s important for them to work at an organization that volunteers and gives back to the community. Plus, employees who engage with their organization’s philanthropic efforts, like Alivia engaging in the Warm Detroit drive, tend to stay with that organization 75% longer than their peers. 

Focus on Employee Development 

Finally, we can’t ignore that all three interviewees have been promoted since starting with WSI. And all three cited this as a reason for staying. Taylor mentioned that she has “seen so much growth within myself here that I’m really happy that I chose to stay [with WSI] and also excited to see what can come out of me moving forward.” 

It’s only natural that high-performing and motivated individuals want to be challenged and experience growth. So it’s important to highlight promotion paths, provide opportunities to upskill and focus on each employee’s long-term plan at your organization. 

So… Swipe Right or Stay Put? 

Unless you want to churn and burn through employees, you must strengthen your workplace culture. Employees who don’t feel connected, appreciated, and valued can too easily swipe right on the next job board and leave you searching for their replacement.

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