Loyalty, what is it? According to loyalty is the faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc”. Loyalty isn’t given blindly nor is it a bartering chip given as a reward like a bonus and then taken away when one is displeased with circumstances or current events. Loyalty is earned, not demanded or expected just because of one’s station in life. It is given to and received by those who are deemed worthy. To be the recipient of one’s loyalty should be revered as an honor and not taken for granted.

Things have changed greatly in this world regarding loyalty in the workplace. I know people who only had one single employer their entire career. They may have worked their way up the ladder of promotions as they attained one success after another. Their career spanned 20 to 30 years. Some stayed at the job even longer. Today, people change jobs ten to fifteen times, which is an average of about 12 job changes during their career. The average duration is about 5 years per position.

Business owners felt a responsibility to their employees thusly reinvesting their profits in the business to generate growth opportunities for the employees. Employees were paid living wages and some type of benefits package and provided growth opportunities commensurate to their desire and abilities. I remember seeing multi-generations of one family all working for the same company.

I’ve had the opportunity to observe a manufacturing company whose owners still manage their business as an “Employee Oriented Business”. The company employs open book management which means the employees see all the costs/expenses and profits. They are encouraged to participate in management of expenses by developing cost saving ideas through better efficiencies. Employee input is asked for and welcomed every day. Their ideas are implemented more often than not because of the trust and loyalty the owner has for those employees. In addition to good wages, as a reward for the team effort employees are provided profit sharing for doing their part in making the business successful/profitable. The mutual loyalty is what allowed this company to grow to over $65 million in annual revenue.

Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve had the unfortunate experience of watching that company crumble and struggle to survive due to disloyal and self serving employees who have lost their sense of direction. Employees who were given the opportunity to really drive the company to greatness but in a self-serving move have reduced this company by 50% and created an atmosphere of total distrust and mayhem. The owners are reorganizing and rebuilding what never should have been lost. I have full confidence in their ability to rebuild and restore the strength through great leadership. They will build strength through new loyalties within their organization.

Loyalty creates strong bonds between people. Loyalty is the fiber that gives strength to an organization. Loyalty produces the atmosphere/culture conducive to a successful business. Loyalty is a two way street, it has to be given in order to receive. Is strong loyalty an attribute perpetuated in your company?