Ask people about company loyalty today, and you’re likely to get a lot of different responses—especially generationally. The days of working for a single employer over the course of a career, earning a pension, and retiring at a relatively young age are gone. And they’ve been gone for quite a while. But that doesn’t mean that loyalty doesn’t exist at all because it does. It just manifests in a completely different way.
Billionaire Richard Branson puts it this way saying, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” This presents a real challenge for both employers and employees, especially since they have disparate perspectives on loyalty and what it means in real terms.
Two Perspectives: What Loyalty Means
Reggie Ponder and Kat Potts, hosts of The Kaleidoscope Group’s weekly Becoming Inclusive podcast, dug into the topic sharing their experiences and ideas on how loyalty impacts work and career. The discussion bridges the generational gap between the hosts. The two agreed that the concept of loyalty has evolved over recent decades to include things like added employee benefits like training and development and in many instances even things like tuition reimbursement and childcare or eldercare.
These programs are designed by employers to demonstrate their commitment and loyalty to employees even though they are quite aware of the risk of good people leaving for “greener pastures” once they’ve gained more experience and skills. Does this mean that employees are being disloyal when they leave for a new opportunity? The answer is no because ideally, the relationship with previous employers can and often remains positive, with employees rating their experiences with the employer on social media sites and even helping with recruitment through referrals.
In today’s dynamic business environment employees are redefining loyalty as well. While they don’t necessarily make lifetime commitments, there are many other ways they express loyalty to their companies or organizations. From their perspective, they do it daily in small and sometimes large ways. Working while sick is one example the podcast hosts brought up or covered for another team member on a project. Mentoring and coaching young talent is also demonstrative of loyalty since they’re also helping build the leadership pipeline with other high-potential employees.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion play a major role in making employees feel valued and loyal to an employer. The ability to contribute and be heard greatly impacts employee engagement and as a result employee loyalty. Building real employee loyalty beyond simple retention requires a real and meaningful DEI strategy.