Employee Loyalty Around the Globe

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The benevolent cycle in which loyal employees beget loyal customers beget greater profits has been laid out convincingly by such luminaries as Frederick Reichheld (“The Loyalty Effect”) and James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser and Leonard Schlesinger (“The Service Profit Chain”). But can managers engaged in global businesses assume that the phenomenon seen in the United States applies in the rest of the world? And if so, what creates individual employee loyalty across the great diversity encountered in varied national labor markets? After all, we have all heard that siestas are a must in Spain and that no self-respecting French person works in August. Can we ever hope to make all our employees —whatever their nationalities — feel well-treated and therefore loyal?

The question has been answered in a landmark global study conducted by Walker Information Global Network, an Indianapolis-based international partnership that addresses stakeholder issues, and the Hudson Institute, a public-policy organization specializing in work-force research. More than 9,700 full- and part-time employees representing business, nonprofit and government organizations in 32 countries and regions as varied as the United States, Bolivia, Finland and Hong Kong participated in the survey. The conclusion: The cultural differences that we observe in cuisine, clothing and sport as we travel around the globe should not be confused with differences in work-force issues.

The study confirms the useful cliché that people are people wherever they live, and that most people care deeply about the same few things. In the workplace, people everywhere ask, Am I fairly compensated for my work? Am I well suited for my work? Does my employer trust me to do that work?

The researchers segmented the world's employee population as follows: 34% of worldwide employees are Truly Loyal, 8% are Accessible, 31% are Trapped and 27% are High Risk. The Truly Loyal exhibit the kinds of behaviors that make businesses successful — they work hard, stay late, go the extra mile to delight the customer, and recommend the company to their friends as a good place to work. The Accessible feel and act as committed as the Truly Loyal, but for reasons unrelated to loyalty, may leave within two years (perhaps a spouse is transferring, or childcare needs intervene). Trapped employees want to leave their jobs but for one reason or another feel that they cannot. High Risk employees are spending their working hours clicking through Monster.c

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