Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

2 minute read

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?

The Fast Company Innovation Festival