Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Loyal to a Fault? How Important is Employee Loyalty?

Is focusing on loyalty holding your company back? In the past, employees were “company men,” often staying with organizations their whole lives. Many would start and end their career at the same company and felt a great amount of loyalty to these institutions.

This isn’t so much the case today. In fact, the median tenure for an U.S. employee in their current job is a low 4.4 years. Quite the change from the lifetime tenure your fathers, mothers, and grandfathers might have put in at their company of choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics younger baby boomers hold down between 10 and 11 jobs in their lifetime. This isn’t even taking into account Gen X or Gen Y, who will undoubtedly add to the amount of jobs held down in their lifetime.

So just how important is employee loyalty in this new paradigm of job hopping? Probably not as important as it used to be. Sure, we all know how much of a pain it is to rehire positions. Even with technology like video interviewing making hiring more convenient, it’s still a process to fill open positions.

Focusing on employee loyalty, however, isn’t doing you any favors. With employment uncertainty at an all time high thanks to the economy, the age of lifetime employment is in the past.

Here are some reasons why you should be less loyal to the idea of loyalty:

Employees Want to Grow
The biggest reason employees leave your company is the chance to grow somewhere else. Instead of getting angry at this “disloyal” behavior, take a good look at your organization. Is it a good environment for employees to grow their skills and flourish? Or are employees stagnating in their jobs? Employees might not be loyal to companies anymore, but they are likely to stick around if they see the opportunity for legitimate career development. Make your company a place where talented individuals can move up and they won’t move out.

Great Employees Are Better Than Loyal Ones
What’s better, a superstar employee or a super loyal one? This should be a no-brainer! Great employees are always needed by companies to help them grow and face new problems. While it’s great to have loyalty, it’s not as important as competence. Yet many companies put a premium on employees who will stick with the company instead of employees who will help the company grow. Don’t fall into this trap.

You’re Making Connections
If you’re burning bridges with your departing employees, put down the match! It’s definitely hard when a great employee leaves the nest for another job. You might feel hurt and betrayed. It’s human to feel the decision on a personal level and to take it badly. Try to remember, however, not to let your anger show. If your employee leaves on good terms, you might have a foothold in another company. If you don’t lose your temper your previous employee could even bring new business!

Loyalty is great, but as we’ve seen in today’s economic climate it’s not always the most important attribute of a great employee. Hire candidates who are going to add to your company and might even give you a leg up after they leave. It’s more important to hire a great employee who will burn bright and fade fast, than a dull employee who will stay forever.

What do you think? Is focusing on employee loyalty in the past? Share in the comments!

Image Courtesy of bookkeeping-blog.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writers career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Connect with Heather and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.