Loyal to a Tee

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Loyal tee

I admit it. I’m part of a dying breed of employees—a real dinosaur. I just logged my 28th year with the same employer. I have a steady paycheck and a certain degree of respect that goes with that kind of longevity. I’m an oddity in more ways than one.

These days, the idea of working for the same company for an entire career is rare. Most young people entering the job market expect their career paths, employers, and job skills will somehow morph along the way. My idea of loyalty is almost quaint. Just ask typical thirty-year-old educated workers and they’ll tell you: if a better deal comes along, they’ll take it.

In fact, a recent survey said that more than one in three workers hopes to find a new job in the next twelve months. And who can blame them? Employers are showing little loyalty to their employees. Shedding costs by eliminating perks is common. Leave, benefits, and a pension are almost vestiges of another time.

Now, even the security of employment is gone. It’s nothing for an employer to lay off a few thousand here and there to maintain the bottom line. So is loyalty a thing of the past?

A story of love...or an out-of-control workplace?

True loyalty has an unspoken duality, with each side displaying the honesty it takes for healthy relationships of any sort. But the truth is that loyalty isn’t always mutual. Often it’s a one-sided affair, and that creates a quandary for those who want to do the right thing.

Some read the story of Jacob in the Bible and fawn over the romance and love. You know the one—Jacob works for seven years to win the hand of Rachel, only to find out that her conniving father was actually offering the less winsome sister, Leah. So he commits to another seven years of labor in order to marry Rachel.

While some see love that won’t quit, I read the passage and see the story of a terrible employer and eager-to-please employee who should have walked out of a bad workplace.

Was Jacob simply too smitten with Rachel to rightly assess his situation? I’ve been there with compensation, benefits, position, and power. Loyalty can be bought, but is it genuine? Is that what we really want from our employers?

And Laban seemed to have an obsession with getting the most of his laborer with the least amount of compensation. There really is nothing new under the sun, is there?

An alternative to loyalty

Tod Kelly from the League of Ordinary Gentlemen wrote about why he “decided to no longer be a loyal employee to anyone ever again.”

Instead he chose the role of “owner.” Even though the company wasn’t in his name, he became more vested in the success of “his” organization. “Be a full partner in whatever you do, not just an employee,” he wrote. “Treat your organization’s mission as if it really means something to you.”

In return, employers should quit demanding blind loyalty. The best way to win employee loyalty is to help them realize their labor isn’t in vain. Employees need a purpose, a vision, and Higher Calling before they will ever be allegiant. When the staff starts referring to their duty as “vanity” like the lamenter in Ecclesiastes, it might be time to clarify the purpose of every employee’s role.

One day?

I’m thinking loyalty might just make a comeback as both sides realize the mutual benefits. Like rebounding fashion trends, loyalty might just be stylish again.

While I look forward to that day, I’m still secretly hoping it’s not before the Smithsonian measures me for the cast for their next dinosaur exhibit, Loyal-T-Rex.

We are exploring loyalty, what it means to be devoted to a person, a cause, a group. For many, the word invokes patience and longsuffering through a difficult job, for others, it reminds them of the soft fur and wet licks of a family dog, still others think of loyalty to God or to family or to country. Join us to consider where your own loyalties lie.