Several weeks ago, I attended a retirement party for my father-in-law, Gerry. I have attended a few of these in the past, but what made this one unique is that Gerry was retiring after working in the same workplace for 50 years. I’ve never known anyone else who has worked in the same place for that long, and I’m pretty sure I’m unlikely to attend any retirement party like it again.
Because of this, I was keen to learn more about the conditions that would lead someone to remain in one workplace for so long.
After a short meal, there were a multitude of speeches honouring Gerry. Former managers, coworkers, and owners spoke of his loyalty, his unwavering commitment to customer service, and the quality of his work. It became clear that one of the reasons Gerry worked there for so long was that he viewed his ongoing relationships with clients as crucial to the customer service experience. Over the years, he had developed personal relationships with clients and was committed to serving them – which would’ve been hard to do if he had moved to another organization.
When we like the people we work with and for, it fosters a sense of connection and loyalty that employees are not likely to abandon.
When it was Gerry’s turn to speak, in addition to talking about the importance of his relationships with customers, he talked about the friendships that he formed with coworkers and management. Day in and day out, after 50 years, relationships with those he worked with became deeply rooted and important. Those relationships mattered and became a key reason for him to remain at his place of work as a result. In the end, he liked the people he worked with and for, so why would he want to work somewhere else?
There are two lessons I and other leaders can take from Gerry’s commitment. First, whether you are a business or service-oriented organization, it’s important to cultivate a workplace culture where customer service is core to your identity and to hire people who value that focus. Second, remember to create and nurture meaningful relationships among staff and management. When we like the people we work with and for, it fosters a sense of connection and loyalty that employees are not likely to abandon.
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