Workplace Loyalty—What Exactly Is It?

An employer reached out to me the other day to discuss a challenge with one of his long-term employees. He repeated several times how loyal the employee had been up until recently and how dismayed he was at the recent events that had taken place.

I asked what he considered loyal. He promptly replied that, for all those years, the employee was always there, other than standard days off.

I said, “Do you consider the amount of time someone spends at work the measurement tool for their loyalty?”

He replied, “Yes.”

When I asked if there was more to it, he said not for him. The fact that he was so upset that his employee had interviewed at another company showed there was more to it, for sure.

Loyalty between an employer and employee is when both genuinely have each other’s interest at heart and work to ensure that the relationship is reciprocal in nature. Loyalty requires more than showing up by both sides. It requires managers to understand what may be important to their reports and genuinely acknowledge their voice when they need to share a want for realignment in the relationship or a temporary change to accommodate a personal need. Loyalty is recognizing that both sides have chosen to have a relationship with one another. As when couples counsel to realign or separate when a personal relationship is neglected, the same happens in the workplace. United is by choice, yet unfortunately, divided often comes as a surprise to the person who forgets to inquire how the other party is doing in the relationship.

When we hear from an employee who does not receive the appropriate resources from their employer to adequately do their job, we inquire for understanding. When the employee says they are loyal, and that is why they stay, then we question their ability not only to communicate their needs for healthy business operations but also to support their needs to remain a beneficial business professional in the workplace.

A Forbes article from 2019, titled The Truth About Employee Loyalty, and 5 Things Every Leader Should Know, states that loyalty takes time and covers a wide spectrum. It goes on to discuss that just because an employee leaves, it doesn’t mean they are disloyal. It also discusses that sometimes when employees are facing personal difficulties, they can seem disloyal, and we, as employers, can only control our loyalty to our employees and not their loyalty to us.

What can both sides do to create loyalty?

  • Be honest with one another.

Too often, both managers and employees do not speak up for fear of a breakup, whereas, in reality, more breakups happen when one side or the other does not speak up.

  • Demonstrate trustworthiness.

Employees should be able to count on their employers for their paycheck, job security, and resources to perform their job. Employers should be able to count on their employees to put the designated hours for that pay in and to be effective and efficient during those working hours. Both sides doing so will demonstrate trustworthiness.

  • Show support for one another.

All of us are either coming out of something, going into something, or going through something, yet we have a job to do. Taking time to see how each other is doing personally can go a long way.

  • Be mutually generous.

Generosity is described as kindness toward another—greater or more plentiful than is usual or necessary. Even if you don’t think the other party is reciprocating, more than checking a box goes a long way in the workplace and in the universe itself.

Companies develop loyalty programs for their brands and reward those who identify and support that brand. Your company has a brand, and you are a brand within your company. Brand management is protecting the brand from anything that might negate it to create loyalty among others.

Loyalty in the workplace is created from your personal brand and how you care for that brand in the workplace.

Is your personal brand creating loyalty?

Suzanne Breistol


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