|Loyalty in the Workplace|
|By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ|
“If you work for a man, in heavens name work for him. If he pays you wages which supply you bread and butter, work for him; speak well of him; stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents.” (Elbert Hubbard) Defined as a feeling of devotion, faithfulness and trustworthiness, this word should exist in every worker’s vocabulary. The practice of loyalty has been bargained for in some instances that may appear to be an altered meaning of such words as respect, integrity and ethical conduct. For many years we have damaged the original meaning of being loyal and substituted it for actions contrary to its defined meaning in the dictionary as conventional morality has taken a turn for some but not all. Regardless, loyalty and respect are earned and not given if it is not reciprocated.
Some say that loyal members of an organization contribute directly towards it success and development. Others say that when it is all said and done, loyalty has no direct factor in the success or the productivity of the organization thus it’s impact is somewhat measured on a questionable stick used by either side to promote or discount the element of loyalty within their own organization. Loyalty to the organization has become uncertain but the loyalty to another person is anticipated. Herein lays the grave differences of the term as we know it to characterize. Some say today that loyalty is to the employer and not the individual for the employer. When the two clash, a decision must be made which road to follow.
A workforce can be divided when morale is suffering and the attitude of the organization appears to be indifferent to their employee’s needs and concerns. The same principles apply if the employee is unresponsive to the firm. An organization, seeking allegiance to their cause must reciprocate those same feelings if it is to benefit from the emotion and reality that this is a two way proposal. With the economy suffering, organizations suffer as well. Employees are not very confident in their job status fearing pay cuts or being laid off. These factors offer nothing to the cause of strengthen their attitude in the workplace. Traditional loyalty values are easy to describe as the rules are very clear and non-compromising. In return for a good job, noble management principles gave the employee a sense of worth and treated them like family thus they didn’t mind carrying the extra load or working the extra hour. Weary of management’s motive many employees are not so confident they will have their jobs tomorrow as CEOs and politicians are struggling financially how to fund and operate the organizations they work in. Skeptics in a work force may approach this with different set of expectations and demands; this creates more conflict at the workplace today than ever. The fear of short term employment or layoffs has caused great anxiety among workers and puts them in a defensive stance whenever a change is implemented or suggests making things better. Some organizations are leading and training their employees in their career paths while others ignore this important element of building trust and shaved their training schedules to the bare bones.
Many employees fear being left behind. They have implemented and guided their own career paths that may not always include a choice to remain with the organization. They attend college or a vocational school to learn a new trade. Job hopping is now an acceptable practice while five years ago it was distasteful on the resume showing alleged undependability and reliability. Sticking with a firm career path has now been divided into layered paths not always benefiting the current employer causing them fear of losing good prospects for their own needs. Sensing this movement to the other side, firms need to create realistic ideas to provide conjoined circumstances for employees to buy in the concept that the organization cares about their welfare and open up new opportunities to increase their commitment into the service product required to maintain essential services. Loyalty is emotion. Mutual respect and timely responses to each other’s individual needs carry far and send a strong message that “we care”.
Editor’s note: Carl ToersBijns (retired), worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."
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