Loyalty — outdated?

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There was a time when loyalty was everything. My own generation of the ancient past, usually worked at the same company for an entire career. One tended to live in the same city for life. Professional athletes stayed long term with a single team. Ford people would never dream of owning a Chevy and vise versa. In those days, loyalty was the pinnacle. Loyalty to a job or company was absolutely assumed. I’ve actually seen employees fired – not because they were incompetent – but because the boss didn’t feel like they were loyal enough.

Things have certainly changed.

Today, the concept of “loyalty” has all but vanished from our culture. Four of the five biggest global brands didn’t even exist when I was in college. Most of the kids in elementary school today will be in jobs and industries that have yet to be invented.

Competition for great employees is continuously high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics relates that half of all workers under 30 have been with their current employers for less than a year. Some research indicates that the average person will have as many as seven different jobs over their career. As a result, this generation of workers have a lot more than loyalty to think about.

The problem is that most leaders haven’t read the memo. They still assume employees should be loyal above all else. That’s because they are ‘old school’ like your’s truly.

The reason loyalty doesn’t work anymore is that loyalty assumes that no matter how poor your salary, working conditions, stress on the job, or how bad your boss, you’ll stick with the job simply for that intangible thing called ‘loyalty.’ Over the years, I have been with too many employers who expected loyalty when raises were not given or offered, benefits were slashed, hours were cut, lay offs became inevitable, and job demands increased. Those erode loyalty. And certainly the companies showed little or no loyalty to the workers. Neither did the unions.

As a result, in my experience, the bosses most obsessed with loyalty are the bosses that care little for anything. After all, with loyalty, you don’t need to actually inspire, encourage, or lead your team. And the company suffered.

So, root for your favorite team or community and brands you stand by. However, it may be time to lose your expectation of loyalty, depending on your company, and understand that your team is looking for meaning and purpose. It doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate the job, or what you’ve done for them. It’s just that today, employees are searching for so much more. If you are an employer — give them a reason to be loyal. It is the least you can do!

To Your Success…

Scott

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