Has loyalty become obsolete in the workplace?

Cardinals Cubs

Let me start with this… I am not a Chicago Cubs fan! I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan for nearly 60 years and there is one thing Cardinals fans do not do… they never root for the Cubs!

However, I do admire Cubs fans. Can you imagine going your entire lifetime never seeing your favorite team win the World Series or Super Bowl or Stanley Cup? The Cubs went over 100 years between championships, but their fans remained loyal. Their attendance was strong and their fans “fanatical” through all those barren years. They epitomized loyalty.

Loyalty used to be the standard, as well, in the workplace. Many individuals worked their entire lives for one company. And, companies rewarded loyalty. Companies stood by their employees through good years and bad.

Has loyalty become obsolete? I know of one individual that worked for his company for over 30 years. He was loyal to the company. During his last months with the company, he worked nearly every day leading his team through a challenging season of change. However, his company decided that a new direction was needed and cut ties with him. Instead of leaving the workplace with cake and punch and sincere thanks, he left quietly with only a severance package in hand.

Individuals, as well, seem to have little loyalty these days. I can’t tell you how many resumes I have reviewed over the years where the person has worked at 8 different companies in the last 6 years. Individuals, rightly so, have become aggressive in advancing their careers by changing jobs or companies.

Has the day arrived when employee or company loyalty should not be expected? What level of loyalty should we demonstrate? Loyalty is defined as a sense of duty or devoted attachment to someone or something. Loyalty is showing a commitment to someone or something to a higher degree than one might expect given the circumstances. For example, over the last 100 years, Cubs fans exhibited a sense of loyalty or commitment to their team much more so than one would expect given their lack of World Championships. I imagine that Cubs fans are much like Cardinals fans… it is less a choice you have made as it is a lifestyle you have been born or adopted into.

How much loyalty should an individual give a company? How much loyalty should a company give its employees? I believe the answer to that question comes in three parts:

  1. Loyalty should be given as long as necessary to fulfill a promise or commitment – If you have made a commitment, you must keep it. For example, if you promise to complete a project or program or fulfill a time commitment, you should remain loyal until your commitment is fulfilled. You might argue that this is not really loyalty at all. However, a promise is a promise by whatever name you give it.
  2. Loyalty should be given when one side has gone above and beyond toward the other – When one side has done something special or showered you with unmerited favor, they deserve a second or, perhaps, a third chance to earn your loyalty. Loyalty by one side should result in grace from the other.
  3. Loyalty should be given when one side has an extraordinary desire to see the other side succeed – There are times when you remain loyal simply because you want to see something through to the end or you might show loyalty to a person, despite the company. This is honorable.

When one of these circumstances has occurred, we have an obligation to remain faithful and see it through beyond what might typically be expected. On the other hand, when one side repeatedly demonstrates a lack of commitment to or fails to embrace “doing the right thing” for the other side, it might be time to move on.

I believe that loyalty still has a place in today’s workplace. Sometimes, as loyalty is exhibited, it breeds more loyalty from the other side. For example, there have been several companies destroyed by recent hurricanes in the Southern USA that have committed to continue paying employees even while their businesses are being rebuilt. Such a commitment often elicits a strong sense of loyalty in return from employees that benefited from these acts. Likewise, companies often demonstrate a second chance to employees that have provided extended and faithful service. Yes, there is still a place today for loyalty.

Have a great day! And, despite a rough season… Go Cardinals (by the way, winners of 11 World Series titles)!



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