It has become common to hear people in management roles say that company loyalty is dead, and that the current workforce a company employs is not loyal to its company or its boss. All this might be true, pointed out Rick Dacri, a human resource consultant at Dacri & Associates. Dacri further questions if anyone has ever had the experience of having one of their key employees quitting without warning for a “better” job; leaving them wondering, why this employee had taken such a decision? When turnover is on the rise in an organisation, the employers are left thinking: what is wrong with my employees?
Various studies have confirmed that loyalty among employees is dead. Nowadays employees have, on average, nine different jobs in their career. This is a real change from the older generation of workers, who joined one company and stayed there till they retired. Hence the reason why so many individuals say that those were the “good old days”. But what is happening now? And who is the culprit that killed company loyalty?
Before we condemn this generation of workers, we have to consider an option as well. Could it be possible that employers killed company loyalty? Yes that is right, elaborates Dacri, employers managed to kill employee loyalty. How could this possibly happen? Or better, why on earth would they be doing something that could be described as suicidal for their own company.
Dacri puts some questions for our consideration: When sales slow down and profits are in jeopardy, why is it that head count reduction of sales staff is the first response? Why is it that when health insurance premiums go up, the best solution management thinks of is passing on the cost to the employees? When staffing levels shrink, why do we think that getting our workers to do more with less seems the best response?
The above solutions could all make good business sense, but do you really think the employees will make a commitment to you and the company? Has anyone ever thought of what are employees supposed to think when they see fellow long service, higher paid workers being laid off in the name of cost cutting? Do you really believe they feel they have job security? What do you think employees feel when their contribution to their company is converted to a merit increase of around three per cent and then they read or hear about top executives of various companies making millions in salary, bonuses and stock options?
In an annual survey, it was reported that employees’ job satisfaction was rather low, and this was mainly due to the way things were going. Satisfaction with work, pay, job training, promotional opportunities and supervision are all in a free-fall position. Employees are not identifying themselves anymore with their organisation, its goals and mission. In fact, a quarter of the workers who took part in this survey, explains Dacri, admit that they are just showing up to collect their pay cheque!
What can we do? Can we help loyalty rise from the dead?
Well let’s face it; there are some employers who do enjoy employee loyalty. That’s right – and they also enjoy all the benefits that loyalty brings with it, including productivity, quality of service, retention and healthy bottom-lines. How? The answer is rather quick and simple; these employers are the ones who take care of their employees. Although this is not the answer that most managers were looking for, this is a pragmatic, bottom-line approach to a business. Simply put, without motivated, focused employees, organisations cannot operate well. With unacceptably high turnover your organisation cannot flourish. Employers who take care of their employees find that their employees take care of them and their company in return. Employers who do not care for their employees have to face the consequences.
Employees simply want to be treated fairly; they want a manager/supervisor to be empathetic to their needs – to care; and they want to be respected. Employers don’t have to pay hefty salaries to keep employees, but as employers they have to ensure that they are paying competitively. Employers can demand that employees work hard, but they have to treat them fairly, without beating around the bush when it comes to giving them something in return. In doing so, employers can expect their employees to remain loyal, although employers must also keep their loyalty towards their employees.
Dacri concludes by reminding us that we are currently living in tough economic times, where costs are continuously rising, labour is scarce, foreign competition is growing, and employees are being squeezed. All this emphasise the fact that the success of any organisation is dependent on its loyal workforce. Employers, partner with your employees, take care of them, and wait to reap the profits of this successful coalition.
Ms Brincat Dimech is a researcher at the Foundation for Human Resources Development