How often have you heard from your employer that a certain amount of loyalty is expected? If you are an employer, how hard do you work to earn the loyalty of your employees? Both sides of the employer-employee loyalty equation are bound to be tested in the coming weeks, thanks to the changes brought about by coronavirus.
Few workplace topics are as misunderstood as workplace loyalty. In a February 2020 article from Slate, guest contributor and workplace politics expert Alison Green provided ample evidence to suggest that employees are the ones who suffer most from the misunderstandings. In her piece, Greene cited:
- An employee who didn’t know if she should leave her job after being forced to take a 10% pay cut.
- Another employee afraid of how she might appear to prospective employers by searching for a job while still employed.
- A potential new hire expected to demonstrate loyalty by not continuing interviewing while the employer prepared an offer.
None of the three examples is all that unusual. The question of loyalty is one that plagues employees of all stripes. But what about employers?
Loyalty Works Both Ways
Another great post addressing this topic was published by BenefitMall earlier this year. BenefitMall is a Dallas company that provides broker services and benefits administration services to companies across the country. In their post, they made it clear that loyalty is a two-way street.
Green’s assertion that businesses typically act in their own interests is absolutely correct. But BenefitMall’s assertion that employees deserve an equal amount of loyalty from their employers is also correct. Employers cannot expect workers to stick around long term if they do not show any loyalty themselves.
This is the chief reason employer-employee loyalty is going to be tested in the coming months. As the nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, employers and employees alike are going to have to make some tough decisions about their relationships. Many of those decisions are not going to lead to amicable results.
Furloughed and Laid-Off Workers
Loyalty will certainly be tested as businesses begin to reopen and bring workers back. Furloughed workers will be the first to come back as soon as recall notices go out. However, there are going to be some that have already lined up potential new jobs. They will ultimately have to decide between returning to an old job or taking a new one.
Laid-off workers may feel like their loyalty is really being tested if their former employers reopen but do not invite them to reapply for their old jobs. It could be just a matter of limited finances for the employer, but it will still not sit well with those workers who are not invited back.
Addressing Coronavirus Restrictions
Those workers who do end up coming back may be impacted by coronavirus restrictions. For example, mandatory face masks are part of the equation in some work environments. What happens if employees feel like companies are implementing mask requirements without any consideration for their welfare?
The other side of that coin is not taking any steps to protect employee health and safety. By not enacting restrictions, some employers may be inadvertently telling employees that they don’t care about safety.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to any of this. Employers and employees are going to be forced to walk a fine line that will test their loyalty to one another in the coming months. Some will form partnerships that work quite well. Others will eventually part ways because they cannot make things work. Such is the nature of the beast.