Loyalty – is it right to expect it from employees?

A couple of days ago, I had a long conversation with one of my clients. His lament was one I have heard before from business owners – that staff these days are no longer “loyal” to their employer. There is an endless amount of research regarding the difference between generations, and the changing face of our workforce and really I don’t intend to go into those in this blog – what I would like to talk about is an often missed part of “loyalty” – that of individual identity and identification.

Let me explain by using myself as an example – I spent a good period of my life in the Navy.  If you were to ask who I was, I would say I was a “Sailor” – it is how I identified myself to myself.  In fact, if I was talking to someone with a naval background I’d probably take this further and describe myself as a “Yeoman” – a title that would not mean much to people outside the Navy.

Now over the years, I have begun a new career, founded a company and been fairly successful in my endeavours.  I truely enjoy the work I do, dealing with clients who are pursing their own dreams and goals.  While my personal picture of myself has altered, there is still that element of my description which says “Sailor”. 

My point is that this personal identification has created in me a certain amount of loyalty to an organisation I left quite a while ago.  In my mind, that recognition and loyalty is still there.

For Business Owners, it is easy for them to identify themselves with their business – after all they own it, run it and are responsible for its success or failure. 

Sometimes it is hard for them to understand that their employees may not feel the same way about the business.  But after all, if their employees have had no opportunity to “recognise” themselves as part of the business – what have they got to be loyal about?

Speaking to my client the other day, we begun discussing this in relation to his business.  He is a very hands-on type business owner.  For him, his employees are people who come in, do a days work and then leave – the business is his to run. 

While talking, he begun to share some of his own experiences about when he felt the most loyalty to his own employers.

With this – he realised that he couldn’t really expect loyalty from his staff if he was not offering them something to be loyal about.

I left him to think this over and consider what actions of his own were actually leading to the situation that was annoying him.

I’ll let you know how he goes over the coming weeks…….


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