Thursday, January 26, 2012

Does Loyalty Matter Anymore?

Part of "The American Dream" is that by working harder you can get ahead, whatever that means. However, it is a well known fact that switching companies typically leads to a promotion and a raise. I have also been part of many organization that often focus on recruitment, and not retention. While this article is not the recruitment versus retention discussion, it has some of those themes.

This came up a few months ago among some of my friends. The subject came up that people sometimes leave something hanging to go somewhere else to get a bigger paycheck yet those who stayed do not get bigger paychecks at the end of the project. We felt as if loyalty was not rewarded. In hindsight I think that perhaps we were not thinking as long term as we should have. Often times the top management at companies consists of people that have been very loyal to the company for a long time. Additionally people do receive bonuses and raises based on their performance.

Another similar example is coaching a team of "individuals". I do not do much with recruitment because I feel that my time is better spent doing other things. Besides, my coaching salary comes out to about half of minimum wage already. However, I do feel a huge need to be involved in retention of current athletes. I can not coach someone who doesn't show up. Furthermore, I am currently dealing with such a small group of people that losing just one to injury or motivation is a double digit percentage loss. So I regularly ask how everyone is feeling and say thank you to them for showing up and cheer them on not only in running but also in other life events. Part of my job as coach is an attention giver. To some extent all the kids that show up want some sort of attention. Not every day, but at some point they want reinforcement of their perceived success.

In other words, if you can buy gas for $2.99 a gallon at the corporation that funnels money through warlords or buy it for $3.14 next door at the "free-trade" corporation that you have been using for the last three years because the two gas prices used to be the same price, would you still buy the expensive gas?

Loyalty is a finicky thing. Car companies have it, heavy equipment companies have it, Apple has it, Coke and Pepsi have it, cigarettes have it and so do a number of smaller companies, like my family's greenhouse. One of the interesting questions that has come up as a contract employee is, 'does the company that I am at have any loyalty toward me?' They are not providing health or retirement benefits and my timesheet and pay are on a weekly basis. It is quite obvious that if there would be a downturn severe enough, the contract employees would be "let-go" before the actual employees. The contract labor system is becoming more and more common at all levels of pay at a company. It is especially difficult for unskilled and low-skilled workers, the demographic that I feel would benefit the most from enhanced corporate loyalty.

I am learning so much as I grow up and experience life. It is not necessarily that my perceptions of the world are turned upside down, it is simply that a secret door seems to open in one room after another and provide me with a whole new set of ideas and experiences. I wasn't really looking for these doors, but since I now know they are there, I want to see what exists on the other side.

Leave a comment. Does loyalty still matter?

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