Most business owners and executives will tell you that their people are their best asset. Usually, regardless of the overall strength of the firm, that is the truth. Without people, the company cannot operate. However, the employer-employee relationship has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades; it is no secret that employees today are not bound to one organization for the duration of their career.
So, in this free agent era, with many employees rarely staying in the same job for more than five years, can employers reasonably expect employees to be loyal?
For starters, it is important to remember that loyalty does not correlate precisely to “staying in one place forever.” The dictionary defines loyalty as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” Defined this way, it seems clear that employers should expect loyalty from workers, at least for the duration of their employment.
Employees do owe it to their employer to support the company. Someone who is earning a paycheck and benefits should be loyal to the entity signing the checks – meaning they are not undermining the company, working for competition, or badmouthing them on the street. It is a reasonable expectation that they will behave “above board.”
Of course, loyalty is a two-way street. Businesses must focus on employee engagement, the idea that employees will care enough about their job and their company that they will provide discretionary effort at work. In other words, they will go above and beyond their strict job description. This begins with loyalty.
Employers that have a tyrannical approach to management and leadership, routinely changing pay scales, work rules, and expectations, are going to have a difficult time winning the loyalty of their team. However, employers that appreciate their workers’ talent and demonstrate that appreciation through fairness and thoughtfulness – in other words, that demonstrate loyalty – will find that employees return their loyalty.
The employer-employee relationship has changed, and it is unlikely it will ever change back. That does not mean it cannot be a strong relationship based upon loyalty and trust.
But in most cases that loyalty needs to begin with the employer.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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