Workplace Loyalty? Here’s the New Way It Can Work on the Job Today

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Aug 7, 2013

When I hear people speak about how proud they are to be a loyal employee, I want to cringe.

Be loyal to yourself, your partner, close friends, family and your pet. Do you think your loyalty will be reciprocated when your company is facing tough times and has to review numbers and headcount for a reduction in force?

It’s not realistic for employees to be loyal to companies or for companies to be loyal to employees. And it’s not a bad thing. Here’s why…

The problem with traditional loyalty

If you’re an employee and believe that your loyalty will be remembered by your employer when it’s time for the tough decisions, my question to you is, “why on earth would you place your career decisions entirely in the hands of someone else?” Not only will working at one place for too long make you stale, you’re giving up the control of managing your own career.

What if your manager retires, transfers or gets a new gig outside of the company? So much for all of those years of loyalty. Do you think your manager is going to present a succession plan for you on their way out the door? Avoid being naive and recognize the excess of “dog eat dog” attitudes in Corporate America.

I’ve seen business owners in smaller organizations be loyal to employees by making sure they receive salary increases and bonuses every year — for basically showing up for work. That’s OK, but only to a point. Is it because companies don’t want to go through the pain of hiring new talent? Can business owners and leaders honestly say that this employee who has been working for them for the last 15 years is continually growing and that growing is positively impacting their business?

Or does having an employee come in on time, day after day, equal loyalty? For many business owners it does. And good for them. Or is it? I believe that business owners are doing themselves, their employees and their company, a disservice by not embracing fresh eyes and new talent.

How employees today can be loyal

Here’s how employees can be considered loyal:

  • Do your job and do it well — that’s being loyal to yourself.
  • Take pride in your work.
  • Never stop learning and advancing in your field.
  • Don’t take risks at work to prove your loyalty to anyone for any reason — it may come back to bite you.
  • Never believe someone who says, “I’ll take you with me.” That’s just stupid.

Remember that as quickly as decisions are made in organizations is just as quickly as those decisions can change. Always have your Plan B tucked away in your back pocket because no one else will.

How companies can be loyal

Here’s how companies and managers can be loyal:

  • Don’t be selfish and stifle employees. Let them grow and encourage them to seek out new opportunities.
  • Keeping employees under your thumb is comfortable for you but puts laziness over progress.

Once you bring fresh eyes and new talent to your business, you’ll wonder how you ever got along doing the same old thing day after day.

Bring it.

This was originally published on Kimberly Patterson’s Unconventional HR blog.