Stop Bemoaning the Loss Of Employee Loyalty & Trust Already!

Harvard Business blogger Tammy Erickson points out the following:

· A Towers Perrin study, conducted earlier this year, found that 40% of employers had either implemented or were considering a mandatory furlough, 32% a reduced workweek.

· A Hewitt Associates survey, conducted in April 2009, found that 44% of employers had either implemented or were considering a reduced workweek or involuntary furlough.

· A Watson Wyatt study, also completed in April 2009, found that 21% had implemented or were expecting to implement a mandatory furlough, 26% a reduced workweek.

And then poses the question: Is this practice changing the relationship between employers and employees? She posits the idea that because Companies are forcing Employees to work 32 hours a week rather than the 50-60 hours, Employers have planted the seed of a new way of looking at work in Employees’ minds. She believes companies will now lose that “sense of total dedication” that causes Employees to answer emails whenever they arrive or participate in odd-hour phone calls.

At the risk of sounding cynical, I disagree.  Why?  Because:

  • The Social Contract was breached in the 1980s and since then there has been no “sense of total dedication” for most Employees.
  • This most recent example of expendability only reinforces what Employees of every generation have come to realize since the layoffs of early 1980s: its every employee for themselves and the company is merely a stepping stone – not a safe haven - on the way to (hopefully) a better life.
  • Employees are dedicated to themselves and the other Employees on their work team, not the organization.
  • The WorkQuakeâ„¢ of the Knowledge Economy is in full swing and nearly all Employees realize they are Free Agents, subject to lay-offs and reductions in hours and wages as the economy, not the Employer, dictates.
  • The Core Employees will continue to contribute at 110% because it is in their DNA to do so – but they will be looking for other opportunities at other companies if they are not appropriately recognized/rewarded for their efforts.
  • The Temporary Employees and The Others weren’t working more than 32 hours a week before the reduction in hours, and they’ll keep up that blistering pace so they don’t get fired.

This concept of “total dedication” to the company is way behind the reality of the workplace. It’s time to accept the reality of the world as it is and not as we might

want it to be and stop bemoaning the loss of trust and loyalty. Most Employees have already been forced to do just this.

Which point of view do you subscribe to?

Add New Comment

3 Comments

  • Milan Moravec

    Management practices are changing employee employer relationships: kick start your talent machine. Public and private organizations are into a phase of creative disassembly where constant reinvention and adjustments are constant. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being shed by GE, Chevron, Sam’s Club, Wells Fargo Bank, HP, Starbucks etc. and the state, counties and cities. Even solid world class institutions like the University of California Berkeley under the leadership of Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer are firing staff, faculty and part-time lecturers. Estimates are that the State of California may jettison 47,000 positions.
    Yet many employees, professionals and faculty cling to old assumptions about one of the most critical relationship of all: the implied, unwritten contract between employer and employee.
    Until recently, loyalty was the cornerstone of that relationship. Employers promised job security and a steady progress up the hierarchy in return for employees fitting in, performing in prescribed ways and sticking around. Longevity was a sign of employeer-employee relations; turnover was a sign of dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply today. Organizations can no longer guarantee employment and lifetime careers, even if they want to.
    Organizations that paralyzed themselves with an attachment to “success brings success’ rather than “success brings failure’ are now forced to break the implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that the future can be controlled.
    Jettisoned employees are finding that the hard won knowledge, skills and capabilities earned while being loyal are no longer valuable in the employment market place.
    What kind of a contract can employers and employees make with each other? The central idea is both simple and powerful: the job or position is a shared situation. Employers and employees face market and financial conditions together, and the longevity of the partnership depends on how well the for-profit or not-for-profit continues to meet the needs of customers and constituencies. Neither employer nor employee has a future obligation to the other. Organizations train people. Employees develop the kind of security they really need – skills, knowledge and capabilities that enhance future employability.
    The partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor. Employee loyalty to management is dead. A Rx for employee loyalty reform.

  • perspective2

    Post recession employee ;oyalty. Public and private organizations are into a phase of creative disassembly where constant reinvention and adjustments are constant. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being shed by Chevron, NUMI, Wells Fargo Bank, HP, Starbucks etc. and the state, counties and cities. Even solid world class institutions like the University of California Berkeley are firing staff, faculty and part-time lecturers. Estimates are that the State of California may jettison 47,000 positions.

    Yet many employees, professionals and faculty cling to old assumptions about one of the most critical relationship of all: the implied, unwritten contract between employer and employee.

    Until recently, loyalty was the cornerstone of that relationship. Employers promised job security and a steady progress up the hierarchy in return for employees’s fitting in, performing in prescribed ways and sticking around. Longevity was a sign of employeer-employee relations; turnover was a sign of dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply today. Organizations can no longer guarantee employment and lifetime careers, even if they want to.

    Organizations that paralyzed themselves with an attachment to “success brings success’ rather than “success brings failure’ are now forced to break the implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that the future can be controlled.

    Jettisoned employees are finding that the hard won knowledge, skills and capabilities earned while being loyal are no longer valuable in the employment market place.

    What kind of a contract can employers and employees make with each other? The central idea is both simple and powerful: the job or position is a shared situation. Employers and employees face market and financial conditions together, and the longevity of the partnership depends on how well the for-profit or not-for-profit continues to meet the needs of customers and constituencies. Neither employer nor employee has a future obligation to the other. Organizations train people. Employees develop the kind of security they really need – skills, knowledge and capabilities that enhance future employability.

    The partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    Trust is definitely the way to go. But, expecting loyalty is unrealistic. The world changes to fast to expect long-term planning from anyone. Best to concentrate on making good products. If you can't do that, do you really deserve loyalty anyways?

    --
    @wikiworld
    Digg: Wikiworld