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Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Employee Loyalty

Do you remember when you first learned that Santa wasn't real?

I remember being devastated while my mind processed the news... but as reality set in, I was embarrassed that I'd let myself get fooled for so long.

It's taken me a lot longer to come to terms with the reality that there is no such thing as employee loyalty. At least, not anymore.

In a different time, employers hired people who stayed with the organisation for their entire careers. In our time, employees average just under three years with a company. In the old paradigm, less choice was available in the market for both employers and employees, and stability was an attainable prize for both parties. In our time, disruption is an everyday occurrence, and stability hinders our quest for experiences.

However, some employers are still focused on employee loyalty. They want to hire someone with a virtual guarantee that this person will stay with the organisation indefinitely. In our time, how is such a guarantee even possible? Employers have to make hard decisions that affect even the most "loyal" of employees, and employees are onto the fact that they're part of the "family" of the organisation... until the day they're not.

What employers need to understand is that they really aren't after "loyalty." Instead, employers are after a combination of effort and retention. You may think this is just semantics, but the difference in definitions is important. It frames the employer-employee relationship differently and allows us to create a measurable plan to support it.

This plan serves both the employer and the employee. Employers are clear about what they want, employees understand what they get for doing it. It also builds better relationships - built on business needs and professional boundaries.

The companies of decades past (before globalisation, mobilisation, social networking, financial crises and private-political hybrids) may have been able to foster mutually beneficial feelings of loyalty. In today's reality, loyalty efforts are better focused on targeted retention and effort initiatives.