Employee loyalty over salary

Written by Caitlin Williams

Employee loyalty can be tough to earn, but it’s worth its weight in gold.

Once upon a time, so folklore goes, there was a company that was facing imminent closure with the impending Global Financial Crisis.

They’d done their figures, and it wasn’t adding up, leaving them with two choices. They could either make a large percentage of their workforce redundant, or they could retain the entire workforce, but reduce their working hours and salaries accordingly.

In a move of brilliance, they put the question to the employees. Everyone had to vote, and the vote had to be unanimous – either some of their colleagues would lose their jobs, or they’d all take a pay cut. However, the pay cut came with an unexpected bonus.

If they all agreed to reduce their hours to 4 days a week (and their salaries accordingly), the company would pay for one extracurricular hobby/activity for the employees to do on that 5th day.

Interestingly, the vote was unanimous and the employees all chose to reduce hours, with the company paying for a hobby / activity. Some chose horse riding lessons, some chose art lessons, some chose sailing.

This story has been around for years and whether or not it’s true, it raises an interesting point.

Your employees will be loyal when you offer them choice and flexibility. Rather than making the decision for the employees knowing the negative impact it would have,  the company let the employees make the choice – with conditions. In return, the company was rewarded with a happy, loyal employee base rather than resentment and anger.

It goes to show that salary isn’t everything. Employees will often prefer a lesser salary in return for feeling valued and empowered.

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