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Don’t Mistake Teamwork for Loyalty - The Science Behind Hiring for Longevity

Dan Sines

CEO at Traitify | Star Wars & Superhero Fan, Adventurer, aspiring Renaissance Man | Inventor/Visionary in Work

Loyalty is perhaps one of the most fascinating dynamics in a relationship. It’s easy to imagine a human and a loyal pet dog, with the dog standing steadfast by its owner through thick and thin. Yet, when we see packs of dogs, wolves let’s say, hunting together, the descriptive word we use here is “teamwork” as opposed to “loyalty.” Somehow, the act of working together changes the way we feel about individuals’ dedication to each other… that pursuing a common goal seems more an act of cooperation than one of true loyalty.

Although teamwork and loyalty are both important areas of focus, let’s not conflate the two. Teamwork centers around the pursuit of a common goal, which is ultimately measured by team performance. Loyalty is about the dedication of individuals to each other and the organization and is measured by metrics like turnover.

With 47% of HR leaders claiming that employee retention is their top concern for 2018, a company that can maximize for loyalty will have a decided advantage over those who don’t. The trick is to understand the two contributing factors that affect employee loyalty:

An individual’s predisposition for loyalty (a core component of their personality).

Environmental factors (culture, if you will).

Maximizing loyalty implies that a company has enough information on both of the above to make informed decisions.

The good news is that both are measurable. Loyalty is a trait that is one facet of the “Agreeableness” factor in the Five Factor Model of personality. Modern personality assessments can measure this as an individual’s devotion to relationships. If an individual is more willing to stand by people when the going gets tough, especially if the situation isn’t fully understandable or if success isn’t guaranteed, they score higher on the loyalty measures.

Improving environmental factors to maximize loyalty is similarly easy if you have the right data. There are many ways improve employee loyalty via culture (just do a quick Google Search for “how to improve employee loyalty”). But, knowing which tactics will work best is tricky without understanding what makes the team tick.

Personalities can be aggregated across the entire company to give management a sense of what the whole team’s preferences and predispositions are. For example:

Knowing that a team scores high on “Openness” highlights the need for more transparency to foster a sense of loyalty.

Seeing low scores on “Extroversion” perhaps implies more 1x1 conversations as opposed to all hands as a means of communication.


Explicitly or not, companies have always worked to maximize loyalty - however, until recently, it has been difficult to make data-backed decisions in this area. Loyalty has always been one expected result of a successful hire, but now, understanding candidates better allows loyalty to become a factor that can be scientifically and quantitatively measured.

This post originally appeared on Glassdoor. 

 

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