There was a time when loyalty was everything. My father’s generation worked at the same company for an entire career, professional athletes stayed long term with a single team, and Ford people would never dream of owning a Chevy. In those days, loyalty to a job was assumed. I’ve actually seen employees fired – not because they were incompetent – but because the boss didn’t feel like they were loyal enough.
But things have changed.
Today, the concept of “loyalty” has all but disappeared from the culture. Four of the five biggest global brands didn’t even exist when I was in college. Competition for great employees is high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that three in four workers age 16 to 19, and half between 20 and 24, 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, and still assume employees should be loyal above all else. But 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.’
As a result, in my experience, the bosses most obsessed with loyalty are the bosses that care little for anything else. After all, with loyalty, you don’t need to actually inspire, encourage, or lead your team.
So it’s time to lose your expectation of loyalty, 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.
Help them find that “more” and you’ll have more commitment than you know what to do with…