I was pointed to an article recently talking about how the under-30 crowd is the “dumbest” generation because of the Digital Age (which I very much disagreed with). One thing mentioned in the article is something I’ve heard a lot – younger employees feel a sense of “entitlement” and have no company loyalty.
Do you agree?
But more importantly, why do you think some companies have issues with employee loyalty? Why would the younger generation, specifically, be less loyal to an employer than an older employee? I have a few thoughts on that:
1. While my generation has been growing up (and some in it still are), we’ve seen companies treat loyal employees like garbage. We’ve seen long-standing loyal employees lose their pensions due to corporate green and scandals. We hear and see the horror stories about how the biggest companies in the world (can anybody say “Walmart?”) treat their employees poorly (and I’d say that’s an understatement). We, for the most part, haven’t witnessed employee loyalty from companies. When you grow up in that environment, people shouldn’t expect that you’ll want to stay with a company for 30 years, when many companies have shown they don’t value you (you won’t get the promotions, you won’t get the raises, and if they screw up you’ll be one of the first things to get cut).
2. I think this young generation is highly entrepreneurial – perhaps moreso than any previous generation. Why? Because it’s much easier to start a business (just look at how easy it is to freelance online these days for example). In other words, we do feel entitled in the sense that we refuse to put up with a lot of the corporate crap our parents and grandparents were forced to deal with. Why? Because we don’t have to to take it – we can go off on our own far too easily (and many of us do it successfully).
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3. I think when we hear about companies having problems with company loyalty, we forget that we don’t always hear about the good cases. There are plenty of companies out there going out of their way to keep employees happy. They don’t have the same issues with loyalty that other companies have, because they work on employee relations and keep employees happy. I think a lot of companies assume a paycheck is enough – it’s not. If someone is going to give you a third of their day, five days a week (or more), and you want them to care about your business, be loyal, and have an interest in helping you grow, then you’d better be sure to take care of them.
In other words, here’s how I look at it: if you want employees to be loyal, you have to give them a reason to be loyal. Employee loyalty from the company needs to come before company loyalty from the employees. Employee relations is just like public relations – the company is responsible for creating an image and atmosphere, and that’s what directly influences how their public (in this case employees) will feel about them.
Do you feel differently?