[HR.COM] Building An Employee Tribe As Intensely Loyal As Cisco's

The secret to developing loyalty

Posted on 09-12-2018, by:

Yuri Kruman

Tech employees may be well-pampered, but are hardly loyal, by and large. According to LinkedIn research, most companies that are perennial "best places to work" like Facebook, Google and Salesforce still can't "perk" their way to employee loyalty beyond a mere 2-3 years, on average

It seems that "move quickly and break things" applies equally to tech careers.

But there are notable exceptions to the trend. These are more seasoned, less "start-upy" companies like Oracle, Adobe, Apple and Cisco. The median employee age at Oracle is an "ancient" 39, going down to 35 at Cisco, while Adobe checks in at 33 and Apple at 31. By comparison, Facebook's median employee age is 28 and Google's, 30.

It makes intuitive sense that older workers with families would seek stability and calm over the cache of working 24/7 in a hot, young startup or one of the Big Five (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft).

Ageism in tech is also nothing to sneeze at. After all, Mark Zuckerberg once famously declared, in 2007, "young people are just smarter."

And yet, the reasons people stay are more complex than just salaries, bonuses and work/life balance.

When they do, it isn't for the free food or gym, or unlimited vacation, since they're standard in the industry. Oddly enough, the secret to loyalty may be hipsters working in their PJs at home.

According to a study on remote workers commissioned by Upwork, 52% of hiring managers surveyed listed "shortage of talent" as the top driver leading to the adoption of a remote workforce.

For most tech companies, their embrace of a remote workforce has been reactive and half-hearted, at best, coming when many have doubled down on expensive new offices and shuttle bus fleets despite increasing commutes.

To the 68% of Millennial workers for whom the option of remote work would greatly increase their interest in specific employers, it appears that the prestige of a Big Five company on their resume is outweighed by the same logistics and "face time" requirements outside of tech at around 2 years into the job.

Serendipitously or not, Cisco was onto the remote work trend long before most others. With its workforce spread among 273 metropolitan areas in 93 countries, Cisco was a telecommuting pioneer, pushing for more remote workers as part of a strategic plan to reduce real estate and travel costs, rather than to compete with tech Joneses.

The payoff in costs saved ($196M), premium reaped on real estate sales ($294M), and most importantly, in increasing employee engagement and workplace satisfaction (both up by 17%) and work/life balance (up by 11%) has been tremendous.

And whether or not this was by design or coincidence, Cisco has reaped the benefits of a highly loyal workforce with well above average tenure.
In the current job economy that strongly favours candidates, the writing is on the wall. And as those intent on breaking things and moving quickly know well, reacting to trends, rather than creating them means you've lost your edge.