You Want Loyalty? Get a Dog!

  | James Innes

A recent study has indicated that two in three millennials – the largest generation in the labour market - expect to leave their current employers by 2020. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey assessed nearly 7,700 millennials representing 29 countries around the globe, examining the factors that underlie employee loyalty, and how businesses can strengthen the relationship with their younger workers.

The survey which aims at winning over the “next generation of leaders” indicates that many millennials feel that businesses are simply not aligned with their values and aspirations. Among the key factors that the survey highlighted by the survey are:

·       Leadership skills. 63% of millennials say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed”, and that employers fail to make full use of the skills they currently have;

·       Performance Evaluation. Millennials judge a business by what it does and how it treats people, not by the strength of its balance sheet or its profitability. More than six in ten reference the quality of a company’s products and services, or levels of customer satisfaction. Innovation and efficiency also rate highly.

·       Values are important: The survey asked “what are the most important values a business should follow if it is to have long-term success?” Millennials replied that a business should put employees first and should have a solid core of trust and integrity. Customer care and high-quality, reliable products and services also ranked highly. A significant number also talked about environmental concerns and issues around social responsibility.

Arguably, the misalignment between Millennials, in terms of outlook, values and expectations, with many of the companies that they work for is indicative of a deeper fracture in the workplace, and that dates back to the corporate restructurings of the 1980s. Firms have always laid-off workers, but normally in response to troughs in economic cycles. However, in the 1980s, healthy firms began to lay off employees in pursuit of enhanced shareholder value.  Suddenly, the concept of a job for life was gone, and employees found themselves jettisoned with little warning onto a crowded corporate job market. Those employees who stayed found either their remuneration packages squeezed or benefits cut.

No wonder loyalty suddenly looked like a one-way street. Although there have been a number of economic cycles since then, the readiness of employers to lay-off staff when times get tough has eroded the old social compact between employer and employee.  Workers now do not expect to stay with the same employer for their working lives. Instead the expectation is that they will work for numerous firms and organisations, often for short periods of time.

There is now a much more casual and detached emotional arrangement between employers and the employed. But does this mean employee loyalty is completely a thing of the past?

Not necessarily so. Employers can increase job retention by hiring good managers, treating employees well, paying attention to their corporate values, focusing on customer care, fulfilling their responsibilities to the environment and wider society as a whole. However, the onus is now firmly on the employers. Employee loyalty is no longer a given – it has to be earned.  As the old saying goes – you want loyalty? Get a dog!


Source: 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

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