Business Should Spread the Love
Employers need to work harder at inspiring their workers’ loyalty, thus promoting continuity and reducing turnover. Pro or con?
Pro: Valuable Human Resources
Managers today often complain about a lack of employee loyalty, wondering why employees just don’t want to commit to staying in one workplace instead of always looking for their next gig.
But the fact is, many companies do little to inspire anyone to stay for longer than a few years. Between expecting workers to finish projects in their off hours, cutting benefits and perks solely to meet numbers, giving tiny salary increases, and using layoffs as a budgetary tool, companies are demanding more and more from their workers while giving them back less and less. Employees are feeling overwhelmed, alienated, and disposable. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 77% of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs for these very reasons.
When employees feel alienated and disposable, it hurts the companies that employ them. People who’ve worked for many years at the same place have seen many projects come and go and acquired a vast amount of expertise regarding how the company really works and why it works that way. They can help bring new hires up to speed like no training class ever could.
Workers who feel appreciated and safe in their jobs are also free to get creative and do their best work rather than worry about a sudden layoff—and have to call recruiters during their breaks.
Do you, as a company, really want a workforce living in fear—and your most experienced and accomplished employees leaving with a wealth of knowledge that will take years to replace?
Con: New Employment Model
Once upon a time, a model employee was someone who stayed with the same company for decades, climbing through the ranks and building an entire career with just one or two employers.
But that was then. Today’s economy requires people with a wide array of skills, and the only way to get those skills is to work in many companies. This trend accounts in part for why the median job tenure fell from around seven years in 2000 to 4.1 years in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers aren’t mentors and caretakers anymore. They’re trainers and launch pads for ambitious and talented individuals. Rather than boasting about how many people spent their entire careers with you, you should boast about how many successful managers and executives started out in your offices.
And what exactly do we mean by employee loyalty? Managers can tell workers that the company is just one big happy family, but it’s highly unlikely those words would be seen as genuine. They probably won’t stop a valued employee from taking another offer at a salary the current employer just can’t afford to pay.
Whether we like it or not, the world has changed and with it, the relationship between employers and employees. To get the most out of their chosen professions, workers need the freedom to roam, experiment, and acquire new skills. And to get the most out of its employees, companies need to hire people with a diverse background. Trying to hold on to your workers for 10 or 20 years today actually does them a disservice. —G.F.