Five Ways to Boost Your Loyalty and Happiness at Work

How loyal are you to your employer? Would you be willing to cut pay, benefits, or hours to help keep your company afloat? Do you feel as if you and your company are “in this together”?

If you said “No way!” to the above questions, you’re not alone. A new study by research giant Ipsos Loyalty found that only about 30 percent of us feel loyal to our employers. About the same number of us feel that our employers have earned our loyalty.

So why does loyalty on the job matter?

Because our loyalty as employees impacts our happiness at work. According to the landmark Ipsos Loyalty Study, employees with the highest levels of loyalty to their job also characterized themselves as happiest.

What Is Loyalty—and Why Does It Matter?

Loyalty is the realization that we need each other to be whole and happy. It’s well known that people who are happy at work are happier overall.

Loyalty is the force that binds us together and the cornerstone of stability in our relationships. If you were to go to work each day feeling no connection to your coworkers or clients, it’s fair to say that you would feel isolated and alienated.

Loyalty is also accepting the bonds that our relationship entails, and defending and reinforcing those bonds. In a workplace context, this means pulling for your company, supporting coworkers, and reinforcing good relations with customers and clients.

Finally, loyalty is the sense that something belongs to us–e.g., our team, our products, our company, our brand.

How to Be a More Loyal Employee

The study discovered a one-to-one correlation between loyalty and happiness. In other words, if you’re not loyal, you won’t be happy. Therefore, it’s in your own best interest to improve your “loyalty skills” on the job.

Here are five ways to boost your proficiency in each skill set:

Give support and assistance. Build a reputation for being someone who supports coworkers in the form of giving technical help, brainstorming, problem solving, coaching others in your area of expertise, and sharing contacts. Help a peer do a better job, struggle less, learn a new skill, impress the boss, or gain new respect with clients and coworkers. Watch how your relationships, status, and sense of purpose improve.

Give time and attention. Take an interest in the workplace challenges and projects of your peers. Even though you don’t work in a cubicle, do you go through the day with blinders on? Take time to ask coworkers questions about what they’re working on and what their challenges are. Listen well, and pay attention to their concerns. Show empathy, and demonstrate that you understand their issues and really “get” their point of view. Next time you need help with a daunting project or problem, the people who feel that you listened to them will be there for you.

Offer recognition and encouragement. Look for opportunities to give sincere compliments to coworkers when they’ve done an excellent job on a task, or when they demonstrate superior skills, say, while leading a meeting or doing a presentation. Instead of being withholding or competitive, show fellow employees that you’re cheering them on. Feeling as though “we’re all in this together” raises morale and makes for a fun and healthy workplace culture.

Make a sacrifice or commitment. Offer to stay late, do a hated task, or stand up for a coworker’s unpopular viewpoint in a controversial workplace debate. Show colleagues that you are willing to put yourself out for them. The benefit to you are many. For one, it’s good office politics. For another, they could be making recommendations or putting in a good word on your behalf next time you’re up for a promotion or a peachy assignment.

Be reliable and trustworthy. Follow through on what you say you’ll do, and be someone whom others can count on–to confide in, to lean on, or to be there in a pinch. Demonstrate to your coworkers that you are consistent and competent–and that you are willing to be the go-to person when required. This quality boosts your reputation and has endless payoffs.

In our every-man-for-himself work environment, developing more loyalty toward fellow employees will give you a new sense of fulfillment and meaning in your job. When others view you as loyal, they will return these qualities and gestures in kind–and the quality of your workplace relationships will soar.

Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy are leading experts in loyalty management, and coauthors of a new book, Why Loyalty Matters (BenBella Books, 2009, www.whyloyaltymatters.com). They are also creators of LoyaltyAdvisor (www.LoyaltyAdvisor.com), a web-based tool that analyzes your loyalty across multiple dimensions proven to link to personal and professional success.