What is loyalty at work?
We all crave loyal friendships in life, with someone who will be supportive, non-judgemental and a confidante when needed but can that happen in the workplace.
The answer is…Of Course!... and many friendships have been forged in this way.
However, loyalty is only as good as the parties involved, but a warning… self-preservation will always trump loyalty as people need to know that the job they’re doing is going to be worth it in the long run. There is a tendency that if the rewards aren’t forthcoming fast enough, many just move on to improve their careers.
It seems to be a trend that many employees in today’s fast-moving world have become impatient for immediate results, and are driven more by status.
The millennial generation are regularly maligned for being self-absorbed, materialistic and impatient towards getting the promotions and compensation they feel they are entitled. As a result, the perception is that they can’t really be relied on or ever consider being loyal.
However, "loyalty" today has a different meaning than it might have had in times gone by. Millennials have grown up in a world where the right job opportunities are difficult to attain, contracts lack security (zero hours), remote and flexible working with Laisez-Faire management and often minimal guidance, hot desking etc... Therefore, their frame of reference is different when they think of being tied to an organisation in terms of “cradle to grave”.
All employees need a sense of security and satisfaction in their jobs and will do a good job when they feel that the employer is fair and wants to see them succeed.
So… is loyalty important?
Well… employers value employees they can trust and who exhibit their loyalty to the company, but what if the circumstances change! Your sponsor or Manager leaves, is transferred or retires. Who’s going to recognise loyalty then?
Will that loyalty be reciprocated when the organisation is facing tough times and need to review headcount for a reduction in costs? It’s a fact of life, that tough and unpopular decisions need to be made in business if an organisation is to survive, and this is when loyalty is really tested.
The thing is…Loyalty is a two-way street. People shouldn’t be a slave to loyalty if it’s not reciprocated and organisations should work hard at breeding the right culture which suits the business model.
A person’s loyalty is often determined by the hours they put into their role or what they are prepared to do in stepping in to make things happen at a time of crisis, but by doing a job to the best of your ability with pride is being loyal to yourself.
So... how can the business leaders demonstrate their loyalty to their employees?
Workplace loyalty isn’t lost, it may just require a reboot as to what loyalty actually means in today’s world. Organisations that can offer opportunity and longevity will develop more of a sense of loyalty from their employees
So… is it engagement, not loyalty that brings the benefits to an organisation as loyalty is simply a bi-product of inclusion?
An individual’s worth is vital for self-esteem and by feeling a part of the decision-making process increases morale, but identifying and developing those loyal employees within an organisation is key to sustainability.
“Job Hopping” doesn’t have the same stigma as it used to, as millennials believe that changing jobs can help to benefit their career. This philosophy doesn’t sit particularly well for employers, who will have invested time, money and effort into developing an individual, and it is a real dilemma for many and important they hold on to that investment.
Bearing this in mind, businesses need to adopt the right mindset of attracting and keeping loyal employees, even if this means making their employees more marketable knowing they could be leaving when the right position becomes available for them.
It doesn’t always follow that when an employee is looking for advancement, that the business has an immediate opportunity and sometimes it’s inevitable they could be lost.
When this happens, there is a temptation for organisations to hold back on people development, but failure to invest in people simply means that the organisation is happy to accept mediocracy and a false economy, eventually leading to a delivery of poor service leaving the organisation vulnerable to predators or failing reputation.
Creating a positive atmosphere within a business that is inclusive and engages employees makes the workplace more interesting. Work-life balance is also an important factor and it's worth remembering that give-and-take goes both ways.
Making sure that employee appraisals include time to understand how they see their own careers developing is important. Understanding where an employee wants be in their career path will help managers make better decisions but not everyone has a clear road map about their expectations. That’s when “Individual Development Plans” for an individual’s career path helps their direction and serves to promote motivation and loyalty.
Constantly evaluating which employees are most at risk of being lost is a pre-requisite for leaders and is why identifying and developing Change Makers within the business is vital to continuous improvement.
The most common drivers for change are usually caused by a number of triggers; Financial or Operational challenges, Reorganisation, Acquisition and Mergers, Market Forces or maybe Increased Activity from Competitors.
Whatever the reason, it’s reassuring to think that forward-thinking leaders are being strategically proactive, whilst mindful of the value that loyal people bring to the business and the importance of development.
The Change Maker Group specialise in helping organisations get the best from their own internal Change Makers, developing internal change capabilities that often lay dormant within an organisation, and focusing on delivering sustainable results.
Contact Mark Hallam at firstname.lastname@example.org