NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Employee loyalty is on the rise, according to a recent survey of U.S. workers earlier this year, and the firm that completed the survey said that is good news for their employers.
But the firm, Walker Information, said U.S. employers still have a way to go to build a truly loyal work force that can lower costs.
The survey of 2,500 employees, conducted in July and released Monday, finds that 34 percent of those surveyed are both committed to their employers and planning to stay at least two years. That's up from 30 percent in a 2003 survey and only 24 percent in 2001.
Among the characteristics of loyal employees is not seeking another job, as well as resisting offers from other employers. Loyal employees are also far more likely to perform beyond their job's minimum requirements, according to the firm.
But only 55 percent of those surveyed said companies treat employees well, and only 41 percent felt their employer views staff as its most important asset. Those measures that lead to employee loyalty need to improve. according to Walker.
The survey characterized 31 percent of respondents as "high risk" and looking to leave their employer, although that is down from 34 percent in the 2003 survey.
Ethical behavior by employers is also important to building employee loyalty, as those who are loyal are more likely to report that employees are treated fairly at work and feel little or no pressure to cut corners, according to the firm's survey.
Chris Woolard, a consultant for Walker, said that being able to build loyalty and reduce turnover is a financial advantage for companies, which he said must spend about 1.5 times an employee's annual salary to replace him or her, through recruitment and training cost and lost productivity.
He said some businesses that have been hit by high turnover rate have done the most to improve employee ties, with loyalty among health care workers climbing to 39 percent in the most recent survey, up from 31 percent in 2003. Information technology saw the biggest jump, with 36 percent feeling truly loyal, up from only 19 percent in 2003, when employees were far more likely to report they were ready to jump at the next best offer.
For another survey that showed U.S. workers feeling less secure about their jobs, click here.
For more on the 2005 job market and what it means to you, click here.