STAFF LOYALTY: AN OXYMORON
MANILA, November 3, 2005 (STAR) EVERYONE KNOWS By Bill Spindloe, YAPSTER e-LEARNING - The dictionary defines an oxymoron as "conjoined contradictory terms," like "deafening silence" or "jumbo shrimp" or as one female colleague once told me "sensitive male." Does "staff loyalty" fall under this definition? As the years pass, I am starting to think so more and more. Long gone are the days when you join a company after school and stay with it your entire working life. So why is this? What happened? Is loyalty an outmoded concept?
Manpower Inc. undertook a worldwide study over a couple of years ago and came up with some interesting results.
Fifty-three percent of employees came under a category called "Mutual Loyalists." These people, mainly women and senior managers, saw their contract as a two-way street, where their efforts to improve the company should be rewarded appropriately – which should be the ideal scenario of mutual loyalty.
Nineteen percent of those surveyed came under the category which they called "Blind Loyalists." They generally expressed some kind of loyalty toward the company despite feeling that the company rarely deserved it.
"Mercenaries," as Manpower Inc. called them, made up six percent of those questioned. This group felt that a company should deserve loyalty but felt none toward it at all.
Twenty-one percent of those who took part in the survey were, rather dramatically, called "Saboteurs." They said they never had any loyalty toward the company, and felt that the company did not deserve their loyalty.
Recognize any of these categories in your staff or colleagues?
Over the years, I have come across many different types of appraisal forms and systems, and yet one area has remained a feature in nearly all of them. They all attempted to measure or assess the overall loyalty the employee has shown the company in one way or another. A recent form I came across mentioned company loyalty six times. How can we possibly measure loyalty? How do you quantify it? As we have seen from the Manpower report, is it really necessary anyway?
In my opinion, we should stop trying to measure whether our employees exhibit loyalty or not, and start to look at ways we can show our loyalty to them. Effective leadership, where we look to establish credibility, trust and personal understanding, might be a start. Easier said than done perhaps, but the awful attrition rates in corporations today that ultimately lead to poor productivity, low morale, poor customer care and an ever-diminishing bottom line have to be addressed. Training and developing leaders who can help us invest in our staff, recognize coaching opportunities and most importantly follow through, has to be key.
Can we promote from within? A common complaint from employees is that the opportunities simply do not exist internally so they move on. More often than not, with the right kind of nurturing, the right man or woman for the job is already working for you. But remember we need to train and bring our people on in the right way and not just promote as some kind of reward for long service. We do not want to take someone from a position of competence and promote him or her to a position of incompetence.
When the average tenure of an employee is less than 18 months and in some industries less than a year, we have a problem. We need to start to cultivate a working environment which is challenging, demanding and not without opportunities and rewards, and as one mentor of mine many years ago said, "If you want loyalty, get yourself a dog."
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Bill Spindloe is a human resources consultant and trainer of Yapster e-Learning. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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