We all have had that conversation: in the old times you would find a nice place to work and you could be almost sure that you could spend the next 35 years working there. You would be incredibly loyal to that company and the company would be equally loyal to you.
Now days, the average period of time that somebody spends in the a company is less than 4 years and it is getting shorter very quickly. Employees no longer have that old emotional attachment -loyalty- to the workplace, and the same thing happens the other way around, companies no longer are that loyal to their people.
Now, the hunt for talent and good people has to be permanent. Now you can't be really sure if somebody will show up next week or next month -We have had clients that are afraid of people not showing up the next day-, specially this becomes more critical with the most talented people.
The same thing happens on the other side of the coin: you no longer can expect to remain in a company for a number of years and just let life to flow happy. As a professional you also know that you need to be prepared for unexpected changes.
When and how did we lose the value of loyalty?
When it comes to employee-workplace loyalty, is everything hopelessly lost?
THE BAD NEWS
Yes, not only loyal work relationships can be badly eroded now, but they will continue to disappear for the majority of people and businesses in the near future.
Loyalty is build when we interact as humans and collaborate together in resolving some common issues or complete specific tasks and achieve goals together. It is a natural emotional response of belonging to a team where everybody makes contributions for the benefits of all.
Do you feel a particularly loyalty for somebody else? think where it comes from and what makes you loyal to him or her. What experiences did you go through together that created positive bonding?.
Loyalty is complex to understand, but in a nutshell it is an emotion that builds up when we willingly collaborate and achieve goals together.
No collaboration, no interaction, then no opportunity for loyalty.
So, the main reason for lack of loyalty is also lack of human interaction in a healthy way. No natural pleasant interaction happens if we don't need to review or discuss around common topics.
Now days all kinds of rules and regulations define how we interact at work. If I need a day off because I need to see the doctor, I don’t have to talk it over, it is already regulated how that will be resolved for us: me and the company.
Vacations, break time, show up time, workdays, sick days, uniforms, use of the space in the office, use of the parking lot, lunch breaks, and even all kinds of policies on how to celebrate at the end of the year.
Don’t get us wrong, regulations serve critical purposes. They discourage abuse, discrimination, harassment, and other negative things from happening at work. Regulations are created by the authorities, by the corporations, and even by the local office where you work.
But the other 2 things that regulations also do are:
-Create fear: most people would remain safely distant from each other rather than mistakenly be perceived as with a bad intention.
-They make interactions mechanical and robotic, with no human warmth.
The more regulations dictating how we should interact, the less meaningful conversations we have as people, the less kindness in our interactions, and the less opportunity for loyalty.
THE GOOD NEWS
When there were less regulations, people needed to speak together more to manage agreements on many different ways. Loyalty had a more organic way of growing and bonding people as they all connected together.
Can you do something as a company to revert the situation? Yes you can.
You can create ways for people to have some participation in the decisions that are taken every day, no matter if these are even small business decisions.
There are many techniques to gain consensus, use them to let people bring some of their own hearts to pick the color of the walls in their office for example. Let them decide where they can park in the parking lot, or maybe let them decide a part of the menu if you have an internal café (for more real life radical examples like this, check out RADICAL SOLUTIONS, FROM ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY article, click here)
If it is possible for you, take your time to walk out of your office and interact with the people that you work with everyday. Be as warm and kind as you can, don’t follow any particular format or rules for your visit to them. Just go out and ask them how is their day going, try to make them share something positive that has happened, either personal or professional. Inspire devotion and reliability in your conversation. Give them the opportunity know you and to add to this loyalty bridge you are building together.
HERE IS ONE REAL LIFE EXAMPLE:
The CEO in one of the companies we have served, has quite a nice practice: he has a box of gourmet chocolates that he grabs and brings with him regularly, and just starts walking the company building and stops for a nice short conversation with anybody that wants to spend with him a couple of minutes. People start talking about how tasty the chocolates are, and then it goes anywhere, from how things were in the morning meeting to what their plans are for the weekend.
Not only this company has a very high and loyal commitment from its employees, but it also has a number of people bringing their resumes to them all the time, even if they don’t have open positions listed. The company has become an employer by choice in that city. People work there because they want to, not because they have to.
Loyalty between employees and the workplace will continue to erode as more and more regulations come in. But anyway this old style of loyalty was random and unpredictable.
Loyalty cultivated in a more controlled and directed method is stronger, predictable and much more productive.