Elena Griffing is a living testament to the power of celebrating employee loyalty.
The 90-year-old recently celebrated 70 years working at the same San Francisco Bay Area hospital. She was just 19 years old when she started on April 10, 1946 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Back then, the average American made $2,500 a year, a gallon of gas cost 15 cents and Griffing was a member of the Frank Sinatra Fan Club.
Her milestone work anniversary attracted media attention from around the country, and the stories are a joy to read! Griffing is a spry lady with a sense of humor who still wears heels to work and loves her job, even after all these years.
“Some people retire at 65, but good grief, I was just getting my second wind at 65,” she tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
In 70 years, she has taken only four days of sick leave.
So what’s her secret? And, more importantly, what did her employer do right all these years to keep her around and keep her happy?
Employee loyalty starts with finding the right person for the right job — clearly, Griffing is perfect for her job! After that, it’s up to the employer to nurture the right environment and culture. Read on to learn the essential building blocks of employee loyalty.
5 Building Blocks of Employee Loyalty
Why is Griffing so dedicated and happy? Let’s look at the elements of Griffing’s employee loyalty.
1. ‘This Is My Hospital’
Griffing has a sense of ownership in Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Over the years, she’s fulfilled a variety of roles within the company, moving quickly from secretary to “the right hand of physicians.” She spent 25 years delivering test results for the hospital’s laboratory and later worked with endocrinologists and in the hospital’s burn center. At one point, she even helped deliver a baby in the hospital parking lot. Nowadays she’s a patient relations coordinator.
“I can’t wait to come to work every day, this is my hospital,” she tells the Associated Press. “I enjoy anything I can do to be of service.”
From the beginning, the hospital allowed her to cultivate a sense of ownership in her work by welcoming her skills wherever they were needed and wherever her interests drew her.
No matter the job or industry, employees need to feel part of something bigger. Making sure employees feel invested in company success is a major key to building employee loyalty, according to Micah Sullivan’s Forbes’ article, “The Secret Of A Successful Company Culture: Spread A Sense of Ownership.”
2. ‘If It’s Helping Someone, It’s My Bag’
Griffing is in a daily position to help people, and she loves it.
“Truly, it’s the patient that counts. If it’s helping someone, it’s my bag,” she tells Associated Press.
With hospital work, the connection between work and helping people is pretty clear. But helping people is the basis of any job in any industry. It’s up to the employer to make sure employees see this connection.
Why does knowing how you’re helping matter? Because helping others has numerous practical benefits that ultimately encourage employee loyalty, from better well-being to increased productivity.
3. ‘Every Day, I Learn and Learn and Learn’
Do your employees have opportunities to learn on the job? Griffing does, and it inspires her to keep coming to work.
“I love watching people get well and get better,” she tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “And every day, I learn and learn and learn. I can’t wait to get to work in the morning.”
She tells the East Bay Chronicle, “From the first day I came here, it was like magic. I wanted to know everything, learn everything. It’s been such a joy for me.”
Learning that is embedded in the daily workflow significantly boosts employee engagement, according to HR Magazine.
“We need to bring the context of how we are going to use what we learn as close as possible to the learning process,” workplace learning and development expert Charles Jennings tells the magazine.
4. ‘They Realize She’s Special’
At a recent party for Griffing at the hospital, her niece Judy Ingersoll described her as “our hero.” She also articulated what Alta Bates Summit Medical Center means to her — and vice versa.
“I am beyond grateful to Alta Bates Summit. They realize she’s special,” she told the assembled party.
Griffing’s boss, Holly Colin, says she’s “a huge benefit for patients.”
“Patients still drop in to see her 20 years after they left,” Colin tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
Specific, personal employee recognition like this lets employees know they’re wanted and valued. The best recognition is tied to company values, according to Entrepreneur contributor Heather R. Huhman.
“Values serve as the foundation a company is built on and should drive every aspect of business — especially recognition, as it can help retain employees,” Huhman explains in her article, “Inspire Employee Loyalty With Recognition Rooted in Company Values.”
5. ‘Every Day On the Job Is a Celebration’
“Every day on the job is a celebration” is how Associated Press writer Kristin J. Bender describes Griffing’s work life.
Part of this is simply who Griffing is — a spunky lady with an infectious attitude — but her employer, by honoring and celebrating who she is, creates the type of work environment where it’s possible for every day to be a celebration.
Traditionally, employee celebrations have meant holiday receptions and anniversary parties. But the latest research shows that engaging employees and building long-lasting employee loyalty is a daily pursuit. The annual review is “like FitBit sending you your step count once a year,” says BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan.
Daily recognition and regular, low-key celebrations remind employees how valued they are on a regular basis — and that’s a major driver of employee loyalty!
Want more tips on how to celebrate employee loyalty every day of the year?
Download gThankYou’s FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar for expert tips on how to engage, recognize and build a loyal and happy workplace. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you to build an everyday culture of appreciation with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.
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