Let’s not be naïve, we do need money to survive, but it’s how we earn our money that’s important. Thus, what we do must align with our values, otherwise we would all be robbing banks!

Due to the ever-changing 21st century workplace, the tokenistic promise of a gold watch as recognition for a team member’s lifetime company loyalty is a thing of the past. As CEOs, we need to realise how to achieve loyalty from our employees without the promise of more money.

Begin with your brand

Is your business truly embracing the values it was founded upon? Or is there a gulf between what your website says you ‘stand for’, and the practical reality of how you operate?

Achieving loyalty begins with your personal behaviour. Individuals who take responsibility and are accountable for their own decisions–right or wrong–and who are willing to make tough decisions at the top, are the ones who become leaders.

On the other hand, those who are in denial or blame others tend to struggle with leadership roles, procrastinate and remain unfulfilled.

Build others up

VIP leaders understand the value of developing others, and building leadership talent in their company and the industry.  Engaged team members are far more productive than those who are under-engaged or disengaged.  They work harder, have less sick days, less injury claims and are far more likely to be retained long term. They are also more loyal to the company and the leadership team. One of the most powerful tools for leaders is the use of genuine praise and appreciation. I like the concept of the ‘love bucket’, whereby everyone has a love bucket inside them. Happy and engaged team members have a love bucket that is nearly full, where unhappy and disengaged team members have a bucket that is nearly empty.


In addition to praise and appreciation, team members like to receive rewards and recognition. Some people simply like to receive special individual attention and spend time with you; a leader they trust and respect. Try to incorporate all of the following tactics to show your employees that you value them:

  • Praise for effort: use positive affirmations and tell your employees when they have done a good job
  • Appreciation: personally thank your team members
  • Rewards: provide recognition and other rewards, both monetary and non-monetary
  • Touch: give high fives and pats on the back
  • You: devote quality time and attention to your team members

Team Recognition programs can be a great way to build team loyalty. However, it should be noted that there is a fine line between those programs that are successful and those that become a ‘popularity contest’.  Employees tend to like receiving personal recognition from the CEO in the form of a handwritten note, or a one-on-one conversation. Of course, gifts such as movie or sporting tickets are always appreciated. One of my company’s clients has a successful team-member recognition program that recognises commitment and loyalty by rewarding its employees with educational opportunities, including team learning experiences and trips overseas.

Another quick and simple tip to build loyalty is ensuring you celebrate people’s birthdays, work anniversaries and other special occasions. The trick is getting the right recognition that works for your business and having the right management to steer it.

Effective and intelligent leadership is the key to good management, both at the top–the CEO–and at a middle management level. Real leaders are at their best when things are at their worst. I have witnessed some magnificent leaders who particularly stand out when the pressure is on. Anybody can be a great leader when things are going well; when the bonus cheques are coming through and when the money is flowing through the doors. But it’s the turbulent times that test good leaders and the loyalty of their team members. Money can’t buy that form of loyalty.