Do you want loyal employees or happy employees?

As usual, the pig got me thinking again.

In this entry, Jack is talking about customer happiness and loyalty, but it got me to thinking about employee happiness and loyalty.

Try reading the quote he cites from Fred Reichheld, “the preeminent authority on customer loyalty”:

Don’t get yourself in a dither about customer loyalty. Studies find that while 85% of the customers say they are happy, only 67% will make their next purchase with the company they’re happy with.

While some may take exception with this assessment, it’s got some truth to it. But here’s something interesting. Try replacing “customer” with “employee”:

Don’t get yourself in a dither about [employee] loyalty. Studies find that while 85% of the [employees] say they are happy, only 67% will make their next [project] with the company they’re happy with.

Now, in my opinion, this tweak rings absolutely true.

Why?

Because I want happy employees, not loyal ones.

Loyal (but not happy) employees generally come in two flavors: embittered and disinterested.

I don’t really want either of those types of people working with me.

Happy (but not loyal) employees, on the converse, are looking for the next big opportunity. They’re enjoying what they do because of what they do. Not for whom they do it. And you’re getting great work out of them because they’re happy, for the time being. They’re not playing it safe. And there’s no fear of making mistakes. They’re being creative.

Loyal (but not happy) employees are making sure they do things absolutely right. That they’re not rocking the boat. That they’re getting their cost-of-living increase year after year. That they’re on the path to getting the gold watch. They’re not being creative. They’re being safe. Because there’s no reward in pushing the envelope. There’s only risk.

That’s a huge difference.

Ideally, you have the opportunity to work with people who are both happy and loyal. But when push comes to shove, I’ll take happy over loyal, any day.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Employment, Happiness, Loyalty. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Do you want loyal employees or happy employees?

  1. Pingback: Moonlighting Revisited, sans Cybil and Bruce | More than a living

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